RCSI Bahrain inaugurates its Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre at King Hamad University Hospital
RCSI Bahrain officially launched the state of the art RCSI Bahrain Clinical, and Biomolecular Research Centre located in the Bahrain Oncology Center, in partnership with the King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH). An official opening ceremony was held under the patronage of His Excellency Lieutenant General Dr Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Health.
His Excellency Lieutenant General Dr Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said in his address to the attendees, “The need for the RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre arose to help address the healthcare issues of the Kingdom of Bahrain and was the visionary idea of Professor Sameer Otoom – President of RCSI Bahrain and Major General (Dr) Shaikh Salman Al Khalifa - Chief Executive Officer of the King Hamad University Hospital, and has been led by Professor Stephen Atkin, Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research at RCSI Bahrain. The Research Centre will support the positioning of the Kingdom of Bahrain as a GCC healthcare hub and will bring external funding as well as esteemed recognition to the Kingdom, making it a recognised regional centre of excellence.”
Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Rana bint Isa bin Duaij Al Khalifa - Secretary General of the Higher Education Council and Deputy Chairperson of the Higher Education Council Board of Trustees, said in her address to the attendees: “The research that will be undertaken here at the RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre, and the outcomes that its findings will produce will not only result in cheaper and more efficient means of curing some of the most prevalent diseases, but it will also lessen the financial and logistical burdens on our public healthcare system, thereby elevating the quality of services provided and advancing the quality of life of Bahrainis and residents alike. Medical research, like most forms of scientific research, is not only essential for the development for a society’s foundation, cornerstones of education and national qualifications, but it is also one of the key drivers that underpin the Bahrain Vision 2030.”
The official opening ceremony was attended by Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Rana bint Isa bin Duaij Al Khalifa - Secretary General of the Higher Education Council and Deputy Chairperson of the Higher Education Council Board of Trustees; Her Excellency Dr Maryam Al-Jalahma - Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA); Brigadier General Professor Hesham Yusuf Ali, Deputy of Major General (Dr) Shaikh Salman Al Khalifa - Chief Executive Officer of King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH); Dr Ahmed Al Ansari, Chief Executive Officer of Government Hospitals; Dr Jaleela Al-Sayed Jawad, Chief Executive Officer of Primary Health Care Centres; Professor Elias Fadel - Director of Bahrain Oncology Center and Chairman of Bahrain National Tumor Board; Professor Fergal O’Brien, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation and Head of Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI in Dublin; Professor Stephen Atkin, Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research – RCSI Bahrain, executives and staff members from RCSI Bahrain and King Hamad University Hospital, as well as RCSI Bahrain medical students particularly interested in research.
With the recently established protocols for human clinical trials by the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) and in alignment with the National Health Plan and Bahrain Vision 2030, the RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre was established to promote teaching and research focused on prevalent health diseases in the Kingdom of Bahrain such as diabetes, obesity and other health conditions.
Professor Sameer Otoom, President of RCSI Bahrain, commented, “The RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre is a step forward in strengthening RCSI Bahrain’s long-standing commitment to enhancing human health and patient care through endeavour, innovative research and collaboration. We thank all our stakeholders involved in the establishment of the Research Centre and being a part of a significant milestone in the history of the University.”
Being located within the Bahrain Oncology Center, the RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre allows for a first-class experience for clinical research patients and visitors, where RCSI Bahrain researchers, clinicians and academic staff work collaboratively to conduct pioneering translational research across a range of health science disciplines.
Professor Elias Fadel, Director of Bahrain Oncology Center and Chairman of Bahrain National Tumor Board highlighted that the opening of the RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre at the Bahrain Oncology Centre and in cooperation with King Hamad University Hospital, aims to enhance education and develop research and academic activities in various fields of medicine, especially in the field of stem cell sciences, under the supervision of a team of specialists. He also noted that research is an essential pillar for producing a database that contributes to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, which eventually contributes to raising the level of medical services in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Brigadier General Professor Hesham Yusuf Ali, Deputy of Major General (Dr) Shaikh Salman Al Khalifa - Chief Executive Officer of KHUH and Director General of Medical Affairs and Consultant of Otolaryngology at KHUH, praised the cooperation between the hospital, the Bahrain Oncology Center and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain in the field of advanced clinical and biomolecular research. This in turn will contribute to the development of research in a scientific environment, in accordance with the highest standards under the supervision of a group of specialists and experienced practitioners in this field. The Centre is an essential part of any large medical institution, and it will be a daily activity that greatly improves diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, in many areas.
The RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre is divided into groups dedicated to specific areas of research. One area of expertise is the delivery of clinical trials to the highest of international standards at the Clinical Trial Unit, where samples are taken from patients and immediately processed and analysed, using the latest technologies, by the on-site Clinical Research Team. The Unit has already undertaken three national clinical trials, after being nominated in 2020 by the Supreme Council of Health and the National Medical Taskforce for Combatting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to establish, facilitate and support the national response for all COVID-19 clinical trials in Bahrain.
Another area of research focus is tissue regeneration, led by the Tissue Engineering Research Group, where the team explores soft tissue regeneration, such as skin and nerves, using smart biomaterials made in laboratories and studying gene activated scaffolds and cellular responses to wound healing. This research is applied to the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and assessing the response of an anti-ageing protein on improving wound healing.
A Stem Cell and Genome Engineering Group was also established to find cures and treatments for diabetic and neurological disorders, by utilising pluripotent stem cells and CRISPR mediated genome engineering. In addition, the Pancreatic Islet Cell Group will be studying pancreatic islet cells, to be able to improve cellular responses to the disease, with the ultimate goal being a cure for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Professor Stephen Atkin, Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research, who also oversees the Research Centre and all research initiatives, commented, “The RCSI Bahrain Clinical and Biomolecular Research Centre has access to world-leading technologies in both clinical and translational medicine, to enable our researchers and clinicians to collaboratively conduct pioneering and patient-centred research, which addresses key national, regional and global health challenges. Thanks to the proactive regulations by the Ministry of Health and NHRA, the Research Centre will provide support in transforming Bahrain to a central hub for research and attract more global pharmaceutical manufacturers to the Bahraini market.”
The Cancer Research Group, in collaboration with the Bahrain Oncology Center, will further investigate the use of Sigma-1 receptor antagonists and data from in-silico research in treating breast cancer. In addition, the centre will be conducting pioneering work in DNA and RNA to analyse the genes and markers in clinical samples used for diagnostics in diabetes and cancer.