Qatar Report





 

Medical education and research environment in Qatar
– a new epoch for translational research in the Middle East

By Lotfi Chouchane, Ravinder Mamtani, Mohammed H Al-Thani, Al-Anoud M Al- Thani, Marco Ameduri and Javaid I Sheikh

Recent advances in medical technology and key discoveries in biomedical research have the potential to improve human health in an unprecedented fashion. As a result, many of the Arab Gulf countries, particularly Qatar are devoting increasing resources toward establishing centres of excellence in biomedical research. However, there are challenges that must be overcome. The low profile of private medical institutions and their negligible endowments in the region are examples of such challenges. Business-type government controlled universities are not the solution for overcoming the challenges facing higher education and research programs in the Middle East.

During the last decade, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development has attracted six branch campuses of American Institutions of higher learning to the Education City in Qatar, a 2500-acre area, which is rapidly becoming a model of integrating higher education and research in the region. Not-for profit, time-tested education institutions from abroad in public-private partnership with local organizations offer favourable conditions to build robust research programs in the region. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMCQ) of Cornell University is an example such an institution. It is the first and only medical school in Qatar.

WCMC-Q’s interwoven education, research and public health based framework lays a sturdy foundation for developing and implementing translational medicine research programs of importance to the State of Qatar and Middle Eastern nations. This approach is yielding positive results. Discoveries from this program should influence public policy in a positive fashion toward reducing premature mortality and morbidity due to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer, examples of health conditions commonly encountered in Qatar.

Introduction

A monarchy, Qatar has been ruled by the Al-Thani family since the mid-1800s. Since its independence in 1971, the nation has undergone remarkable social, economic and industrial development. Recently, the State of Qatar won the bid to host 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is evident that Qatar has transformed itself from a poor British territory into a wealthy oil and natural gas rich state that provides ample growth opportunities for businesses, social events, education and research institutions. According to the Qatar Statistics Authority, on Sept. 30, 2010, there were 1,642,235 Qatari residents, approximately 350,000 of who are Qatari citizens. The remaining residents are expatriates chiefly from South Asia and from non-oil-rich Arab states.

Countries in the Middle East including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations such as Qatar and United Arab Emirates have experienced a reduction in their mortality rates. In general, life expectancy has increased and people are living longer, many with debilitating non- communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease[1,2].

Health care continues to evolve in the GCC nations. The nations have committed to combating the widespread prevalence of NCDs and the morbidity associated with them[2]. Qatar has been at the forefront of initiating new research, clinical and community projects in controlling these diseases. In general, Qatar’s goal is changing from a disease based approach to a more comprehensive evidence based integrative multidisciplinary care and a preventive approach to disease and patient management. Evidence based approach will necessitate developing programs aimed at high quality basic science and public health research with a view to improve the quality of life, and reduce morbidity and premature mortality associated with commonly occurring chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer. Education programs, which offer opportunities for research and ideal clinical experience, are required. Developing translational research programs in the Middle East is imperative.

But building a robust, viable research culture in the Middle East is a challenge. There are several reasons for this - one, the Arab world’s 200 universities have almost negligible endowments with business and lack adequate venture capital; two, most Arab universities are largely state owned and spend only around one percent of their budgets on research compared to an international average of 35 percent; three, some wealthy countries in the region are lacking in their human capacity building but have funding; and four, low and middle income nations are lacking in financial resources despite having well-educated professionals and scientists[3].

Based on our own collective experience in global health, medical education and research, we feel business-type government controlled universities are not the solution for overcoming the challenges facing higher education and research programs in the Middle East. However, not-for profit, timetested education institutions from abroad with local financial support and working in close collaboration with the host country’s institutions show promise and may offer exciting opportunities. A case in point is Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q). WCMC-Q’s interwoven framework of education, research, public health and clinical components lays a sturdy foundation for developing evidence based translational research as discussed in this review.

We begin our review by briefly discussing the educational and research environment. Our discussion continues on Medical Education in Qatar, and provides a summary of student demographics and their interests, and pre-medical and medical education programs at WCMC-Q. This is followed by a brief description of WCMC-Q’s public health and research activities. We then summarize the challenges WCMC-Q faces and the opportunities it provides to its faculty and their collaborators. Documenting our experience and the lessons learnt might be instructive to those considering establishing similar programs internationally.

Research and Education Environment in Qatar

Qatar Foundation (QF), which was established in 1995, is an independent, private, not for profit organization, whose mission is “to prepare the people of Qatar and the region to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, and to make Qatar a leader in innovative education and research.” Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar and founder of Qatar Foundation, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, the Foundation is “transforming Qatari society by educating the rising generation to the highest world standards - these will be the skilled professionals who will be the country’s future leaders. It is turning Qatar into a producer of knowledge by building a research base. Some of the new ideas will reach the stage of commercialization, helping diversify the economy”[4].

Under the umbrella of QF, there are several premier research and or education institutions. These include the Education City (EC) of which WCMC-Q is an integral part, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). The overall intent is to connect the industry, academic and government sectors into what is commonly referred to as the Triple Helix model[ 4,5]. The model provides a conceptual framework for regional development.

Education City in Doha, home to six American University branch campuses including Cornell, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon, is the flagship of Qatar Foundation. It is spread over 2,500 acres. With the exception of Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, programs offered by the EC universities initially were limited to undergraduate degrees but recently graduate degrees have been initiated by Virginia Commonwealth University and Texas A&M University-Qatar. Additionally, there are plans for EC universities to collaborate with the industry as their research programs mature.

QSTP facilitates the engagement of the private sector with the universities, as a base for multi-national and national companies to establish research centres, and an opportunity for knowledge-based entrepreneurs to create new businesses. It has already attracted tenants such as EADS, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, GE and Shell, the latter of which is to set up a $100m gas-to-liquids research centre. R&D is focused in areas related to the economy of Qatar, such as gas and petrochemicals, healthcare, information and communication technologies, water technologies, the environment and aircraft operations. QSTP also recently announced two venture-capital funds of $130 m to help commercialize local innovations, and the QNRF is providing public funding needed to support basic and applied research.

In accordance with its mission, the Qatar Foundation has embarked on an innovative and visionary set of initiatives to create lasting benefits for the country of Qatar and to increase the visibility of Qatar within the global community. A crucial component of these initiatives is the establishment of infrastructure aimed at improving the health and quality of life of the Qatari population. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s charge includes a leadership role in the effort to address important biomedical research and healthcare needs in Qatar.

The main focus of Qatar Foundation’s mission is a partnership building approach which allows institutions in Qatar with similar objectives in medical education, research, public health and healthcare to come together: WCMC-Q and its US-based sister institution WCMC- NY, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Sidra Medical and Research Center, QSTP, Supreme Council of Health (SCH), and QF the Qatar Foundation (Figure 1). Qatar’s commitment to research is evident in many reports and comments of scientists from around the world[6].

Medical Education

WCMC-Q, a branch campus of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York (NY), is the unique medical school in Qatar. It is located in Doha, Qatar, about 11,000 KM distant from its parent campus in New York. WCMC-Q is housed in Education City. WCMC-Q awards the same MD degree as the main campus in New York.

This institution, its students, faculty, educational, clinical and research resources, processes and traditions are in the early stages of development. WCMCQ graduated its inaugural class in May 2008. Its students and faculty, as well its local affiliate Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) faculty, are remarkably diverse in terms of their cultural, social and educational backgrounds.

WCMC-Q currently offers three separate educational programs: a) two year premedical program, b) four year medical (MD) program and c) one-year foundation program (primarily aimed at Qatari students), which provides intensive training to high school graduates in science, math and English to better prepare them for the pre-medical program.

WCMC-Q medical student demographics and interests

Tables 1 and 2 show the demographics of the current student body (Foundation, Pre-medical and Medical Programs), which are composed of students from 36 different countries with Qatari nationals constituting 18% of the student body. The male and female percentage distribution of students is about 54 and 46 respectively.

WCMC-Q education programs

Pre medical education

The Pre medical education program at WCMC-Q is a flexible two or three-year program to which students are admitted following their high school education. Most students take the two-year option with condensed mathematics and sciences courses. For those students coming from a disadvantaged high school background or in need of development in their English skills, a one-year Foundation Program has been added before the premedical program. The Foundation Program offers pre-college courses in the sciences and an English as a Second Language (ESL) course, along with a focus on developing study skills and professionalism. This is quite different from the typical situation in the US, where, barring very few exceptions, all students entering a medical school have completed a fouryear undergraduate degree.

The Premedical Program at WCMC-Q offers a range of courses chosen to meet WCMC Q admission requirements and to offer breadth of education. While most of the courses focus on mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, an effort has been made to offer humanities and social science courses such as psychology and medical ethics. While such a curriculum may appear rigid and too heavily science-oriented, it allows for a solid and integrated learning experience. There is a close and continuous interaction among the faculty delivering the courses, and the students have the opportunity to better appreciate the unifying themes and concepts lying behind the nominally distinct sciences.

Additionally, premedical students have the opportunity to participate in research projects under the guidance of premedical, medical, and research faculty. The Premedical Program has been very successful in producing student capable to enter the Medical Program and to perform at the high level there required.

Medical program

WCMC-Q and NY use the same curriculum and learning objectives. The curriculum, which integrates basic with clinical sciences, is progressive, challenging and rigorous. It engages students in active learning, self-directed inquiry, and small group discussions. These methods are integrated with seminars and lectures provided by faculty from WCMC-Q, NY, and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), an affiliate of WCMC-Q.

The medical curriculum is designed to provide students a series of integrated, interactive courses. The first and second year basic science curriculum consists of five courses and an introduction to clinical skills. These courses are - Molecules Genes & Cells, Human Structure & Function, Host Defenses, Brain and Mind, and Basis of Disease. There are two additional clinical based courses, Medicine Patients & Society I and II, which the students must complete before beginning their clinical experience in the third year. The third and fourth year clinical curriculum requires completing several required core clinical clerkships and electives, and one course, Advanced Basic Science. The students complete their core clerkships in medicine, primary care, neurology, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, psychiatry, and general surgery at HMC affiliates in Qatar. Additionally, almost all the students spend approximately 12 weeks at New York Cornell Presbyterian - Cornell and affiliated hospitals where they complete sub-internships and electives. The clerkship sites in Qatar, developed in collaboration with HMC, include Hamad General Hospital (in-patient, ER and outpatient clinics), Women’s Hospital, Shafallah Center, Primary Health Centers (PHC) and other local hospitals and centres. Students also complete a two-week required clerkship in public health and another short course, Medicine, Patients and Society III aimed at promoting humanistic practice. The public health course encourages working in teams and building partnerships, which promote coordination of written and oral communication skills. These skills are vital to public health professionals and researchers.

WCMC- Q’s program prepares its students exceptionally well. This is reflected in their performance on the standardized test, namely the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), which is a three-part examination for medical licensure in the United States and is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Here we report on the performance of the students who took the USMLE Step 1 and II examinations for the first time in the period 2006 - 10. As can be seen from the Table 4 the USMLE I passing rate of WCMC-Q students is 86% as compared to 93% for the US students. This difference is not statistically significant. Table 5 shows the USMLE II passing rate for both the US and WCMC-Q students is 96%.

WCMC-Q gradating class of 2010 demonstrated the high quality of their education by being able to successfully compete and secure residency spots in their fields of interest at excellent institutions in the US (See Table 6). Out of 17 graduating students, 11 (65%) are pursuing postgraduate residency training in the US. Four (23%) have decided to take research fellowships at US institutions and the remaining two (12%) have opted for postgraduate education at HMC. These results reflect very positively on the quality of the WCMC-Q program leading to the M.D. degree.

Research is growing at WCMC-Q and will provide many opportunities to our students in years ahead. While opportunities for off site student field placements are limited, our partnerships with government and health care institutions are beginning to produce positive results. Public Health Agenda and Activities

WCMC-Q is committed to working with local public health and global partner institutions that will be most appropriate at this stage to advance most effectively the mission of WCMC-Q in education, research, and patient care, as well as population well being of people in the State of Qatar.

In this context WCMC- Q is embarking on the following public health agenda in the three areas of education, research and community related matters:

A. Education: to strengthen and augment existing educational activities; and develop and implement new programs. Examples of these include a) student exchange programs and b) courses and programs related to disciplines such as research methodology, public health, nanotechnology, nutrition, bio-informatics, and public health.

B. Research: to expand and increase collaborative global and local research initiatives especially on topics of public health importance such as obesity and motor vehicle accidents. We will increase public health research on projects of relevance to the local communities in Qatar. This will be done in close cooperation with the Department of Public Health, Supreme Council of Health (SCH), Qatar and other stakeholders.

C. Community and related matters: to enhance community, health awareness and patient care related services that support the needs of people in Qatar.

Biomedical and Translational Research

WCMC-Q’s research program aims to a) build a self-sustaining core of top biomedical scientists by recruiting, retaining, and training top talents, and b) establish strong research programs in Qatar which target important public health problems and healthcare issues. WCMC-Q research program is consistent with the State of Qatar’s strategy on education, research, community development and health care (Figure 2).

Challenges

WCMC-Q has made excellent progress in establishing a world-class research enterprise located in Qatar conducting cuttingedge biomedical research. This enterprise is attracting, retaining and developing research talent. The College’s project is work in progress. It will contribute to the ground-breaking scientific ideas and allow for appropriate commercialization of research findings with QSTP. The creation of such an enterprise is a long-term endeavour that faces many challenges, examples of which include: 1) the challenge faced by translational medicine, which is the difficulty in truly being a trans-disciplinary science that brings together researchers and practitioners that traditionally work within their own “silos” of practice[7], 2) the creation of sustainable research infrastructure, 3) building a strong research community, 4) recruiting and retaining top-notch faculty and researchers, and 5) lack of recognition of Qatar as a core member of the global research community. Despite these challenges Qatar has made considerable progress and initiated many projects, which will lay solid foundation for effective clinical and preventing strategies in combating NCDs. These strategies will not only reduce the incidence of these diseases but also reduce pain and alleviate suffering associated with them. An outline of QF’s and WCMC’s projects and other initiatives appears below.

Opportunities

There are many research opportunities available to the students and faculty at WCMC- Q. An example of such opportunities is the availability of research funds through the Qatar Foundation’s Qatar National Priority Research Program (NPRP). This program funds meritorious proposals ranging from US$20,000 up to US$350,000 per year for a duration of one, two or three years. The program encourages local and international collaboration. More recently, QNRF launched a new program, called National Priorities Research Program - Exceptional Proposals (NPRP-EP). This new program seeks investigators with proposals of high merit, which require extra funds and more time for their completion. The program provides up to US$5 million per project for a maximum period of five years.

In continuing to nurture various opportunities, and develop and implement the translational research program, WCMC-Q will be guided by the following objectives:

1. Using bench-to-bedside research approach in addressing Qatar’s major health problems such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease.

2. Building local research capacity by establishing sustainable training programs/ courses for students and physicians.

3. Developing and nurturing viable, collaborative partnerships with local and international institutions to further enhance research-building capacity.

4. Establishing an Institute for Global and Public Health, which will engage in research that can positively influence public policy so as to address major health problems such as obesity and motor vehicular accidents.

Reflected in WCMC-Q objectives are several integrated translational medicine research proposals that have been developed and funded by Qatar Foundation’s Qatar National Priority Research Program (NPRP). Others have been submitted for funding to the same agency. We present synopsis of three of such proposals.

1. Genomics and proteomics of breast cancer in Arab populations
The main goal of this project is to address key questions of the nature of genetic predisposition and protein biomarkers for certain types of breast cancer particularly frequent in Arab populations and to translate that to clinical management, including diagnosis, prevention and therapeutics. It aims to establish excellence in the Middle East/North Africa region in the cancer research field, which could be an instrument to tackle the fragmentation of cancer research in the Arab countries.

2. Public health and genomic aspects of obesity in Qatar
This multidisciplinary project aims to identify and understand the a) epidemiologic risk factors of obesity, b) the functions and interactions of macromolecules in cells and c) decipher the biological mechanisms of obesity among Qataris. The study findings will be used in developing novel strategies in the treatment and prevention of obesity in Qatar and other nations in the region.

3. Nanotechnologies and treatment of obesity
This project explores the significance of nanotechnological approach in the treatment of obesity. The results of this project will play a fundamental role in setting the stage for major programs in Nano-Medicine and Stem Cell-Based therapies and technologies in Qatar, as well as the translation of the scientific discoveries from such programs in predictive medicine for the prevention and treatment of obesity and metabolic diseases.

We should comment on one other translational research development. Given the high prevalence of diabetes and obesity in Qatar, WCMC-Q is establishing new Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome centre (DOMS). The DOMS Center’s ultimate vision is to create a solid infrastructure, which supports the growth of collaborative and multidisciplinary research initiatives in Qatar. The Center’s state of the art facilities dealing with genomics, proteomics, imaging, and computational and health quantitative sciences will be available to the scientists for their research projects. The Center will also develop educational and training programs, and partner with Supreme Council of Health on topics of public health importance to the country and the region.

The above multidisciplinary projects with national and global partners have investigators from different backgrounds. The research findings from these projects have the potential of significantly improving the treatment, management, and prevention of commonly occurring noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity. The findings will also help in the development and implementation of population based health promotion programs.

Conclusion

Promising collaborative multidisciplinary translational research as illustrated in this review is an encouraging development in Qatar and its neighbouring GCC nations by extension. WCMCQ’s interwoven education, research and public health based framework provides a robust platform for translational medicine research programs. This approach is yielding positive results. Discoveries from this program should influence public policy in a positive way. Our approach encourages local and global collaboration and partnership with investigators and research institutions from around the world. Our research initiatives have sparked optimism among public health officials, clinicians, and researchers to fully seize the new opportunities in reducing premature mortality and morbidity associated with NCDs such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. We feel many studies that are under way in Qatar will provide promising prevention strategies and lifesaving treatments for the people in the State of Qatar and its neighbouring nations.

© 2011 Chouchane et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

The authors

Lotfi Chouchane1*, Ravinder Mamtani1, Mohammed H Al-Thani2, Al-Anoud M Al-Thani2, Marco Ameduri1 and Javaid I Sheikh1 * Corresponding author: Lotfi Chouchane loc2008@qatar-med.cornell.edu 1 Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Education City, P.O. Box 24144, Doha, Qatar 2 Supreme Council of Health, P.O. Box 42, Doha, Qatar

References

1. The World Health Report: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life Styles. World Health Organization; 2002. 2. Background Paper: Non Communicable Diseases in Low and Middle Income Countries. Regional Highlevel Consultation in the Eastern Mediterranean Region on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Hosted in Tehran by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran 25-26 [http://www.who.int/ nmh/events/2010/Tehran_Background_Paper.pdf] 2010. 3. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar Report: [http://qatar-weill.cornell.edu/media/reports/2009/ chouchaneWEF.html] Professor speaks at World Economic Forum on Middle East. 2009. 4. Qatar Foundation. http://www.qf.org.qa/output/page5.asp 5. Etzkowitz H: Innovation in Innovation: The Triple Helix of University - Industry - Government relations. [http://ssi.sagepub.com/content/42/3/293] Social Science Information 2003, 42:293. 6. Giles J: Arab State pours oil profits into science. Nature 2006, 441:132-133. 7. Sarkar IN: Biomedical informatics and translational medicine. J Transl Med 2010, 8:22.

 

International Advisory Board for Qatar’s Academic Health System meets in Doha



The International Advisory Board (IAB) for Qatar’s Academic Health System (AHS), held its third meeting in Doha in March. On the agenda were discussions about progress made for clinical transformation programs, the ongoing development of research institutions and strength of the evolving partnership between seven health, research and education organizations in Qatar.

The IAB is an advisory body formed of high-profile, international experts in the fields of health, education and research, with significant experience in the development and operation of academic health systems. The IAB reviewed the widerange of significant milestones achieved to establish the platform towards becoming a nation-wide academic health system.

The IAB met on the eve of the first Middle East and North Africa meeting of the Association of Academic Health Centers International, co-hosted by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

“We are fortunate to have such an eminent International Advisory Board. Successful collaborations across the Qatar’s academic health partnership are continuing to gain momentum,” said Hanan Al- Kuwari PhD, HMC’s Managing Director. “This is reflected in the growing number of joint appointments of physicians between HMC and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. This same process includes joint appointments in nursing with the University of Calgary – Qatar and with Qatar University in the area of pharmacy as well as joint appointments with Sidra and the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute.”

Professor Edward Hillhouse, HMC’s Chief of Scientific, Faculty and Academic Affairs, said the IAB discussions featured a productive discussion on the importance of managing transformation with a commitment to patient care and safety. “I believe Qatar’s AHS partnership continues to reinforce the most important principle of the academic health system – that the patient is at the center of everything we do.”

Dr Steven A. Wartman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Academic Healthcare Centers and a member of the IAB applauded the depth and reach of partnership working including the emerging collaborative health projects.

“This type of partnership demonstrates effective engagement by all seven institutions, generated by both successful, and smart capacity-building. It is a significant achievement,” Dr Wartman said. “It is a collaborative model others will seek to emulate.”

The International Advisory Board is an advisory body formed of high-profile, international experts in the fields of health, education and research, with significant experience in the development and operation of academic health systems. Its primary functions include:

- Leverage international expertise to provide advice and guidance on the Academic Health System’s overarching strategy, goals, and plans.

- Provide an international perspective on emerging global developments and challenges.

- Assist in identifying opportunities for partnership and collaboration with health, education and research institutions both locally and globally.

- Assist in the development of metrics and Key Performance Indicators in line with international best practice.

- Help establish and develop the Academic Health System’s position and reputation within networks of practice, locally, nationally and internationally.

The IAB members are:
– Hanan Al Kuwari PhD, Managing Director, Hamad Medical Corporation
– Professor Edward Hillhouse, Chief of Scientific, Faculty and Academic Affairs, Hamad Medical Corporation
– The Right Hon Professor the Lord Darzi, Chair of Imperial College Institute for Global Health Innovation and AHSC, Imperial College, London
– Dr Victor Dzau, President and CEO, Duke University Health System
– Professor Martin Paul, President, Maastricht University
– Dr Steven A. Wartman, President and CEO, Association of Academic Health Centers
– Dr John Wong, Deputy Chief Executive, the National University of Health System, Singapore
– Dr Delos (Toby) Cosgrove, CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic
– Dr Javaid Sheikh, Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
– Sir John Tooke, Vice Provost of Health, University College London
– Sir Keith Peters, Independent Chair, Cambridge University Health Partners
 

 

Qatar’s Academic Health System
– finding innovative solutions for the nation’s health challenges



Qatar’s unique Academic Health System (AHS) partnership and its focus on using education and research to improve healthcare, is already seeing scientists and clinicians working on targeted research projects relating to the challenges facing Qatar’s growing population.

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Qatar’s public healthcare provider, together with six partner organizations is on a five-year journey to develop a nationwide academic health system in Qatar; a first within the MENA region. The partnership is seeing progress on research programs focusing on specific conditions that affect the population, including diabetes. It has adopted the “bench to bedside” approach for the translation of research to practical clinical benefits for patients.

“We have worked hard with our partners in the creation of this AHS to lay the solid foundations of our future success,” said Professor Edward Hillhouse, HMC’s Chief of Scientific, Faculty and Academic Affairs. “Our primary goal is to ensure our patients receive the best care possible, informed by the latest research development and using the latest treatments, tools and diagnostics.”

The partnership is already seeing real advances in the establishment of “virtual” healthcare institutes – for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neuroscience – bringing clinical services and research together to streamline patient pathways and deliver comprehensive care for specific conditions.

“These specialized virtual institutes will serve as hubs of clinical, education and research activity which are all designed to deliver a seamless package of care for our patients,” said Prof Hillhouse. “This involves clinical and translational (bench to bedside) research which will make real impacts on the delivery of healthcare to our patients. The institutes will also look at innovative solutions for the healthcare challenges facing Qatar.”

The institutes, developed in tandem with the National Health Strategy, will underpin the state-of-the-art Translational Research Institute, which will open in 2015. This research emphasis has also involved reaching out to world class international partners focusing on areas including personalized medicine, women’s health, obesity and diabetes.

Another key component to the success of the partnership is the creation of a highly skilled and flexible healthcare workforce in Qatar.

“We are creating a world class healthcare workforce and our educational achievement has already been recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education International (AGCME-I), with Qatar being only the second country outside of the United States, after Singapore, to achieve this,” said Dr Abdullatif AlKhal, Deputy Chief of Medical Staff for Academic Affairs and Director of Medical Education at HMC. “Further, HMC is collaborating with Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and other renowned international partners to transform graduate medical education in Qatar.”

Dr Steven A. Wartman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Academic Healthcare Centers said the partnership being created in Qatar was truly unique.

“Together, Qatar’s AHS partners have established a clear vision and strategy for success, drawing upon the partnership’s synergies as well as additional local and international expertise. Patients, and the delivery of excellent patient care, are at the forefront of the partnership’s ambitious vision,” he said.

Qatar’s AHS is a dynamic partnership between Hamad Medical Corporation, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Qatar University, the University of Calgary – Qatar, College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, Sidra Medical and Research Center and Primary Health Care Corporation.
 

 

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar – working to improve healthcare

Good health is one of the most valuable gifts we have and as a medical school, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) works hard to help enhance the healthcare system in the country. The college was established with the mission to provide the finest education possible for medical students; to conduct cutting-edge research; and to improve healthcare both now and for future generations. All of these are helping to make a real difference to the care that people in the country receive. Through providing a world-class medical education to students from Qatar and the wider region, WCMC-Q is helping to create doctors who have a US standard of education, but who are keen to use their skills in Qatar and the wider Middle East; doctors who understand the culture and traditions of the Arab world but who possess a 21st century knowledge of medicine that is second to none. In this way the college contributes to the knowledge-based economy, the country’s healthcare system, and potentially the world of education as many students will eventually combine clinical practice with teaching and academia. Research Linked to this is WCMC-Q’s Research Division. Now numbering almost 30 separate laboratories, the research is centered on complex diseases and conditions prevalent in the region, including diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, associated cardiovascular complications, and neurogenetic abnormalities. Through better understanding of the factors related to these diseases in the local population, WCMC-Q can impact the efficiency and adaptability of healthcare delivery, in the future paving the way for personalized medicine. Not only this, but through participation in the Academic Health System, the college is able to transform health locally through pioneering research and clinical discoveries in partnerships with other organizations, including Hamad Medical Corporation, Sidra Medical and Research Center and Qatar University. Through both education and research, WCMC-Q is helping to improve the health of the community, particularly in the medium and long-term, but for the college and its leadership it also important that we have an immediate impact on the health of the community. Initiatives like Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First do just that, educating the population about leading a healthy lifestyle and encouraging them to exercise, eat healthily and think about the negative behaviours that can impact their health. For today and tomorrow, WCMC-Q is determined to use its resources and human capital to improve the lives of people throughout Qatar, the region and the world.

WCMC-Q joins global medical education initiative

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC- Q) has joined an elite group of prestigious universities promoting global dialogue and international exchange in medical education that aims to connect educators and students around the world. The United States Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has launched the Global Education Medicine (GEMx) initiative. This will allow medical schools from around the world to establish strong relationships with other schools to provide students with a wide range of highquality educational opportunities. WCMC-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh welcomed the association with GEMx. “This is a facility that will be of significant benefit to our students and faculty. It is a tribute to the hard work and academic leadership shown and we are delighted to be associated with the Global Education Medicine initiative.” ECFMG has formed an advisory committee that includes representatives from medical schools including Australia, India, Ireland, Mexico, and Qatar, as well as representatives from ECFMG’s non-profit foundation, the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research. WCMC-Q’s Associate Dean for Global and Public Health, Dr Ravinder Mamtani, has been selected to serve as a member of the GEMx Advisory Committee. “Inclusion in this prestigious program means that we will now be able to provide even greater opportunities to our medical students,” said Dr Mamtani. “Through this mechanism that has been established, it will allow our students to apply for electives almost anywhere in the world in schools of their preference. It is a great opportunity. It is also a great opportunity for students of other accredited medical schools to come to WCMC-Q. “A wide range of presentations at international forums by our faculty is bringing WCMC-Q into the limelight. Indeed, this is a tribute to the highquality work being done on our campus; the performance by our students who are doing as well as the US and Canadian students; a very strong research program; high caliber faculty and clinical program; global health initiatives; dedicated staff and also community outreach efforts. That is how we came to be invited to participate in this program.” GEMx is an exciting new service that will facilitate and promote international exchange in medical education, providing medical schools and students with access to the two most essential components of effective exchange programs: information and community. Development of the web-based GEMx application system is underway. ECFMG expects to launch a pilot of the new service in late 2013.

Qatar University Canadian-accredited College of Pharmacy collaborate with Al-Ahram Canadian University in Egypt

Dr Nadir Kheir, College of Pharmacy, Qatar University collaborated with Dr Nermien Esmat, Faculty of Pharmacy, Al-Ahram Canadian University, Egypt and her senior pharmacy student Nisreen El-Mahdawy on a project entitled: Effect of Daily Mental Exercise and Omega-3 on Improving Social Interaction in Autistic Children in Egypt: A Case Study. The collaborative research is the first between the College of Pharmacy, Qatar University and a pharmacy college in Egypt. It was jointly presented at the DUPHAT 2013 conference held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 10- 12 March 2013. This poster won the 8th best student poster award in pharmacy theme award out of a total of 120 student posters that were competing at the conference. The project addresses autism, which ranks the 3rd most common developmental disability worldwide with a significant number of cases in Qatar and Egypt. Dr Kheir’s work and publications in the area of quality of life of caregivers of children with autism and burden of autism in Qatar represented the trigger for related studies in the region. This collaborative research project addresses an important child disorder of interest to both Qatar and Egypt and is in line with our CPH mission of serving as a pharmacy resource for Qatar, the Middle East Region and the world.

 Date of upload: 20th May 2013

 

                                  
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