Special Report: Inside Dubai's mega biomedical research institute
Published on August 18, 2020 at 00.01
Medical fraternity in Dubai is celebrating the launch of the emirate's first independent biomedical research centre.
Inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on August 11, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medical Research Institute has a capacity to accommodate over 200 scientists and researchers.
In an exclusive media tour of the facility, Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, highlighted the open laboratory set up for multidisciplinary researchers. He said it will help scientists connect minds, collaborate research and work positively to reshape the future.
Dr Athiq Ahmed, manager of the labs, said there are about 40 faculty members. "This includes professors and research assistants, along with a number of principal investigators, virologists, molecular biologists, and post-doctorate students.
"The main lab area - including genetic lab, molecular pathology lab, tissue culture lab and microscopy - is named as the "primary lab". This is where researchers can complete the foundation tasks and take their research to the next level," he added.
"Currently only one floor is operational. We are awaiting more researchers and scientists to join us soon. The primary lab is spanned out on an open floor with no boundaries or partitions so scientists will interact and also enjoy plenty of natural sunlight," said Dr Athiq.
He said the institute currently has around 4,000 Covid-19 positive samples stored and a team of scientists have been utilising it for different research activities. "The aim of the research work is to understand cell culture, molecular pathology, structural analysis of cells, drug discovery, basic research and innovation."
Senior researcher Dr Riad Bayoumi, a professor at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, said the centre houses a machine called BD Aria - a cell sorting and analysing machine; a real-time PCR machine that can amplify the number of DNA cells making it easy to see if a patient of Covid-19 positive or negative.
"We also have a nanopore sequencing system that helps in selective genetic sequencing and another multiplexing system machine that can measure about 50 different proteins in the same sample simultaneously. Each of these unique machines has a very specific job to do," he said.
The institute aims to encourage young people to pursue scientific research and bridge the medical research gap that currently exists in the region, Dr Bayoumi added.