Ahead of its participation at BIO International Convention, in San Diego, USA, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector, signed a second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Medicine) to expand cooperation in education, research and innovation programmes. Both parties will further collaborate on translational research ecosystem development as well as launch innovative collaborative research involving “second labs” that leverage and build capabilities in Abu Dhabi and at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in leading-edge areas of science.

The MoU has been signed by Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Centre at the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and Mick Merritt, Chief Operating Officer and Lead for Global Clinical Programmes, at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Medicine).

Reinforcing the Emirate’s strategy to be a leading destination for life sciences, this second MoU establishes that the DoH and Penn Medicine seek to design and develop a translational medicine ecosystem based on Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) that will enable Abu Dhabi to leverage and expand upon the strengths of existing organisations. In addition, the MoU seeks to explore the potential of launching two multi-year collaborative research programmes. One focuses on the expanded application of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify new potential antibiotics. The other focuses on longitudinal follow-up and genetic analysis of people with Alzheimer’s in Abu Dhabi that will facilitate cross-population comparative analysis and unique attributes that ultimately enable prevention and early diagnosis.

With the aim of bridging the gap between preliminary research and practical applications in medical practices, translational research seeks to translate research discoveries from laboratory findings and clinical studies into practical applications to improve human health.

Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Centre at the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said, “With a successful history of collaboration with Penn Medicine, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi is thrilled to build on this partnership which underscores the crucial importance of synergy between academia and regulatory bodies in enabling research development and innovation. Abu Dhabi continues to spearhead global collaboration on the global stage and facilitate knowledge and experience sharing in reflection of its commitment to driving forward a future where innovative healthcare solutions are accessible to all.”

Leveraging Abu Dhabi’s advanced infrastructure and Penn Medicine’s renowned expertise in discovering and developing novel treatments, the collaboration will potentiate the development of a translational medicine and therapeutics ecosystem to further enable capacity development and the creation of novel discoveries and treatments to be developed in Abu Dhabi. This will involve the development of research training and educational programmes for healthcare professionals to upskill the workforce in various healthcare domains including medical science, biomedical research and health technology.

Glen Gaulton, PhD, Vice Dean and Director of the Center for Global Health at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, said, “Penn Medicine has become a global leader in precision medicine and innovation that has resulted in more than 25 new drugs and therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the past several years. These accomplishments were catalysed by the transformational investment in ITMAT 20 years ago, which has developed a translational research ecosystem that enriched our human capital and incentivised interdisciplinary and translational research. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in Abu Dhabi to replicate this structure in parallel with investment in ‘second labs’ to foster interactions focused on specific challenges and opportunities in translational research. This will advance the capacity of Abu Dhabi to pursue its vision to become a true innovator in the biomedical sciences and a regional leader that will make a global impact.”

Led by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), a high-profile Abu Dhabi delegation headed by Mansoor Ibrahim Al Mansoori, Chairman of the DoH, visited the USA between 29th May,2024 and 5th June,2024 to showcase the Emirate’s partnership opportunities and explore collaboration with leading organisations in Research and Development (R&D), manufacturing and innovation. Kicking off in Philadelphia, delegates have met with existing and new partners to foster collaboration with leading education research institutions, governmental bodies and health-tech giants. The transnational mission has culminated in San Diego, coinciding with Abu Dhabi’s participation at BIO International Convention 2024 to exhibit the Emirate’s growth and development of its biotechnology industry. The participation has witnessed in-depth discussions, shared insights and expertise as well as explored collaborations in health-tech, life science and innovation.

Highlighting the rich diversity and expertise within Abu Dhabi’s ecosystem, the Delegation comprised of 20 key entities including the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), Abu Dhabi Executive Office (ADEO), G42, Masdar City, Mubadala Investment Company, Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi Group (KEZAD), Malaffi, The Medical Office, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, PureHealth, One Health, M42, Technology Innovation Institute (TII), Burjeel Holdings, Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi Holding Company (ADQ), Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre (ADSCC) and Etihad Airways.