GMU wins grants for research into Emirati health issues

Projects from World Health Organisation will look into breast cancer awareness among UAE women, oral health in the elderly and high-risk relatives of patients with diabetes.

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AJMAN // Gulf Medical University (GMU) is embarking on a drive to increase its research in areas concerning UAE health issues, including diabetes and breast cancer.

The university has just won three research grants from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and another from the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.

It is already working on projects for the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy and the Medical Research Fund of the Dubai Medical College. Two years ago the university began to build a team dedicated to increasing research output.

The provost, Prof Gita Raj, said the research focus had inspired its staff. Teaching alone, she said, was not enough. "Laboratory research is what we're missing here. We have a lot of clinical access but once our four new laboratories open soon, this will enhance the experience of students and our faculty."

Dr Jayadevan Sreedharan, the assistant director of the university's research division, said: "The staff are really taking hold of this opportunity. To see your work published is very rewarding and across all specialities they are very enthusiastic."

Dr Elsheba Mathew has taught behavioural science at GMU for three years and said the job had been far more satisfying since the dedicated research unit was set up. "People are more motivated and there's momentum now," she said. "Teaching is enjoyable but research is more personal - it's your baby."

The WHO's three two-year projects are each worth about Dh40,000. One will look into breast cancer awareness among UAE women, while another examines oral health in the elderly. The third will study the high-risk relatives of patients with diabetes - which affects one in five people in the UAE - and cardiovascular disease, the country's biggest killer.

Pfizer, the maker of the drug Viagra, has given a Dh120,000 grant for a study into erectile dysfunction, a common cause of infertility in the country and a taboo subject.