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Video: 5 UAE scientists get grants worth Dh2.5 million for Covid-19 research

reporters@khaleejtimes.com Filed on November 2, 2020
The research awards were presented by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, during a ceremony at Al Jalila Foundation.

The grants cover research in genetics, therapies and diagnosis

Dubai-based Al Jalila Foundation has awarded Dh2.5 million in seed grants to five UAE-based medical researchers. The Covid-19 research grants in the areas of genetics, therapies and diagnosis are the first to be awarded under the recently inaugurated Mohammed Bin Rashid Medical Research Institute to help enhance the UAE’s capacity to address the pandemic and other viral diseases in the future.

The recipients were selected from a total of 91 scientists from 26 institutions. The five selected scientists will receive grants of up to Dh500,000 each.

Who are the recipients?

The five recipients are talented scientists from some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the UAE, including the United Arab Emirates University, University of Sharjah, Al Ain University and Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.

>> Diagnosis

Dr Farah Mustafa from United Arab Emirates University aims to characterise microRNAs induced during different stages of Covid-19 as biomarkers for better diagnosis, disease prognosis, and development of novel RNA-based therapies

>> Genetics

- Professor Rabih Halwani from University of Sharjah is determining inborn errors of immunity associated with life-threatening Covid-19 infections in previously healthy young individuals

- Dr Ahmad Abou Tayoun from Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital is studying the genetics of the virus in children and young adults in the UAE

>> Therapies

- Professor Taleb H. Al Tel from University of Sharjah aims to develop novel and nature-inspired therapeutics for the treatment of the coronavirus by inhibiting the proteins and enzymes of the virus that are responsible for host-cells entry and for the replication of the virus inside the human cells.

- Dr Mohammad Ghattas from Al Ain University is discovering new drug candidates as potential treatments for Covid-19 by targeting the main protease enzyme (Mpro) of the virus.

Tribute to donors

The research awards were presented by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, during a ceremony at Al Jalila Foundation.

During the event, Al Jalila Foundation engraved the name of Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed on a first-of-its-kind donor recognition wall called Bassmat Rashid Bin Saeed. The wall pays tribute to the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s philanthropic legacy and honours generous donors who invest in medical research.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “The foundation is keen to work with medical institutions to enhance the UAE’s readiness to face health challenges, the most critical of which is the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when the world is racing against time to find solutions for eradicating the virus, well-funded research efforts are critical to mitigate current and future health and economic challenges.”

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed said Dubai is committed to supporting research in healthcare and medical fields. “Exploring new possibilities and breakthrough discoveries in healthcare and medical sectors is key to the UAE’s and Dubai’s efforts to create future-ready economic and social systems that are geared to meet the evolving needs of a post-Covid world.”

Applications assessment

The applications were assessed through a two-stage review process that included independent international peer reviews by experts from the world’s most renowned medical institutions. The process was overseen by Al Jalila Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee, which has some of the most brilliant minds in the region.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com

Staff Reporter





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