Khalifa University’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences invited the Senior Advisor on Research in the Middle East and North Africa for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), which is part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), to discuss enhancing NIH-funded research collaborations in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) region.
Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh spoke in the CMHS Distinguished Lecture Series to an audience of 100 people in a webinar on Wednesday, 20 January 2021. Dr. Sayegh focuses on strengthening scientific collaboration among MENAT researchers and with US investigators in relevant focus disease areas.
He explained that in 2019 less than one percent of total NIAID international funding was invested in research in the MENAT region, constituting just 48 grants funded. However, Dr. Sayegh also explained that there are significant scientific opportunities of interest to NIAID in the region, including many research projects investigated at Khalifa University. Among these interests were infectious diseases such as SARS and Covid-19, genetic diseases of the immune system and infectious diseases in refugee populations.
Dr. Sayegh’s most resonant message was the importance of collaboration overall, saying “it is always better to work together than to work alone,” and highlighting the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst for global research collaboration.
It is becoming increasingly clear that infections that emerge in one area can rapidly spread to the rest of the world, making worldwide collaborative research crucial to combatting infectious diseases.
Dr. Sayegh spoke about the globality of the current health situation and how the UAE has shown itself to be a leader in the area of clinical trials, and shared recommendations for getting local and global collaborative projects off the ground. Such efforts further highlight our need to generate a large-scale funding system in the NIH within the MENAT region, analogous to the NIH.
The visiting professor concluded by reiterating the need for a solid plan for any research project and the importance of getting all stakeholders on board, to promote truly collaborative research.
9 February 2021