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Flanders and the UAE to cooperate on biomedical research

Academic ties to new biomedical heights! Situated in Abu Dhabi (UAE), Khalifa University of Science is joining forces with VIB, Flanders’ strategic research center for biotech and life sciences, as well as with KU Leuven, one of Flanders’ main universities. Following an agreement of cooperation, the goal is to launch an international Biomedical Science Discovery (BISDI) program and develop AI- and biotech-powered treatments for diabetes.

Photo: left to right: Jo Bury (Managing Director of VIB); His Majesty Filip, King of the Belgians; His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council); Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi (Executive Vice President, Khalifa University). 

Unique exchange program

Led by Prof. Dr. Peter Carmeliet (VIB-KU Leuven), the new program seeks to develop new treatments for diabetes through innovative AI-based target discovery and drug target validation tools. A first of its kind for their bilateral relations, the UAE and Flanders are thus teaming up in a one-of-a-kind exchange program to improve healthcare – paving the way for possible future collaborations. 

Initially, the BISDI program will be supported during a two-year run-in period through an investment worth EUR 10 million for Khalifa University and VIB. It can also rely on support from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT). The FIT teams in both Brussels and the UAE initiated and guided the talks between Khalifa University and VIB together with Peter Claes, Ambassador of Belgium in the UAE, and his team. 

Flanders is a hub for research, innovation and technology – particularly in life sciences, healthcare and medical applications. The region’s companies, research centers and knowledge institutions pioneer groundbreaking innovations. We are confident that the BISDI program will pave the way for other healthcare cooperation projects between the UAE and Flanders.

Filippe De Potter
project manager Inward Investment at FlT

Improving healthcare in different corners of the world

The ambitions for the Flanders-UAE cooperation agreement and the new BISDI program reach high, to say the least: 

By championing scientific research and nurturing local talent, Khalifa University believes that this cooperation will lay down the foundations for a program that will create a world-class biomedical ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and Flanders. An ecosystem that will help find cures for the most challenging health problems, while improving healthcare in the UAE, Flanders – and the world. 

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi
Executive Vice President of Khalifa University

The BISDI program is a strategic partnership and a win-win. On the one hand, it boosts our research to identify better targets for the treatment of diabetes. On the other hand, it accelerates the empowerment of VIB as a center of excellence for modern life science research in Abu Dhabi. This will be an exciting endeavor!

Jo Bury
managing director of VIB

Highlighting its bilateral importance, the agreement of cooperation was signed between Jo Bury (VIB) and Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi (Khalifa University) on 4 February 2022 – in the presence of King Filip of Belgium and Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. 

Discover more about life sciences & health innovation in Flanders.

Reported by
press release VIB and Khalifa University
4 February 2022

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