Harvard Breaks Ground on Dubai Center

Medical School and Arab emirate join forces to build largest Persian Gulf health research facility

While members of Congress have been attempting to block a deal that would transfer control of some U.S. seaports to a Dubai-based company, a plan to put Harvard in control of the Persian Gulf emirate’s largest medical research facility is moving full steam ahead.

Construction began Monday on a state-of-the-art, 350,000-square-foot medical complex that will be the center of a collaboration between the Dubai government and Harvard Medical International (HMI), a Harvard Medical School (HMS) program which provides countries with advice on developing healthcare.

Dr. Robert K. Crone, HMI’s president and CEO, said yesterday that Monday’s ceremonial ground-breaking represented a “milestone in tangible progress in the region.”

The Harvard Medical School Dubai Center (HMSDC), expected to be completed in mid-2007, will house post-doctoral education and research facilities that will turn newly graduated doctors into specialists, according to Amanda Pullen, a vice president at HMI.

The HMSDC will include the Maktoum-Harvard Library, financed by a $13.6 million gift from Dubai Crown Prince and United Arab Emirates Defence Minister His Royal Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Pullen said yesterday that the center, which will be located in Dubai’s Healthcare City neighborhood and affiliated with regional healthcare systems, would be the “biggest and most comprehensive” facility of its kind in the region.

“There are really no post-graduate training institutes like this anywhere [in the region],” Pullen said. “There is no organized sense of continuing medical education.”

Pullen added that currently, most doctors in the Middle East have to go to the U.S. or Europe to get specialized training after graduating from medical school.

In addition to highlighting the importance of the HMSDC, Crone also laid out the details of a broader collaboration with the Dubai government.

“It’s part of a more comprehensive program...of Harvard Medical International and Harvard Medical School support for the development of human capital in the region,” Crone said.

In addition to running HMSDC, Harvard has also signed on to supervise quality control of on-site healthcare conducted in Healthcare City, Crone said.

Crone added that the next critical step in the process would be the March 27 launch of the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Fundraising in the region has amassed at least $100 million for the foundation, according to Crone. The fund will support the development of laboratories and careers in biomedical research.

The on-site launch next month will be attended by outgoing University President Lawrence H. Summers, Medical School Dean Joseph B. Martin, and senior medical school faculty, Crone said.

—Staff writer Laurence H. M. Holland can be reached at lholland@fas.harvard.edu.