Shaikh Hamdan presents the Grand Hamdan International Award to Professor Harvey J. Alter in the presence of Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, at the ceremony. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Global and local medical pioneers, including scientists and researchers, were among 15 winners honoured by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance, and Chairman of Dubai Health Authority, on Wednesday, for their path-breaking work in the medical field, especially in gastroenterology.

The 15 winners of the 9th cycle of the Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, 2015–2016, who included some of the UAE’s first medical pioneers, western doctors, Arab health foundations and global non-profit group, will share a Dh2.8 million prize.

The awards were presented in conjunction with the 9th international Conference for Medical Sciences, which runs from December 14 to 16, at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel and will focus on astroenterology with special focus on liver, pancreas and colon diseases.

Harvey J. Alter, an investigator at the Transfusion Medicine Department at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland, USA, was the chief winner of the award who received the Grand Hamdan Award on Gastroenterology for the work he has done on the management of the hepatitis C virus.

“During the past 18 years, the award continued to help improving the health-care system in UAE and the region in order to achieve medical excellence,” said Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the award, during the ceremony.

“This was accomplished through rewarding distinguished personalities and organisations in medical and humanitarian fields. It also established the local culture of supporting scientific research for it is a major route towards advancing the medical field. This is especially evident in human genetics, which now offers the most precise tools for treatment and diagnosis for an increasing number of ailments,” he said.

Al Owais added that the award supported continuous communication between local and foreign institutions, to facilitate exchange of expertise, which leads to advancement and modernisation of local and regional health-care facilities.

Congratulating the winners in all categories, Dr Najeeb Al Khaja, secretary-general of the award, said choosing gastroenterology as the main topic of the award, in its 9th cycle, is an “excellent opportunity to highlight the massive advancements in this important specialisation. The esteemed scientists, who won the Grand Hamdan International Award and Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence, achieved highly in their specialisations either through the management of hepatitis C virus or by uncovering suppressor genes for colon tumours. And not to forget the important introduction of preventive programmes for pancreatic cancer, as well as culturing liver tissues from patients.”

Dr Al Khaja highlighted the important role played by the award in the field of human genetics through establishing the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies. “The latter has the largest genetic, ethnic-based database in the world with data about over 2,200 genetic diseases and their genes,” he said.

“At this point, we are pleased to announce to you that mapping genetic disorders for the GCC is nearing completion through the work of the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies. This massive achievement has been in the making for more than 10 years now and it required huge efforts in research and critical reviewing. Recently, with the establishment of the UAE Genome Project, that was launched by the UAE Ministry of Health, the centre assumed a central position of the core committee through which it will have a highly significant role in this endeavour,” he said.

Both Al Owais and Dr Al Khaja expressed their gratitude to Shaikh Hamdan for extending his patronage to such a noble and lofty cause.

Winners of the UAE category include Cardiac Sciences Institute, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, Dr Hussain Abbas Mahboobi, Dubai, the late Dr Tayseer Ebrahim Barakat, and Dr Shawqi Mir Hashem Khouri, Dubai.

Two research teams from Al Ain also received a trophy for their original research papers published in the Hamdan Medical Journal.

During the ceremony, which was attended by a number of ministers and officials from the UAE medical and health sectors, the topics of the 10th cycle of the award, 2017-2018, were also announced.

Rheumatological disorders was selected as the topic of the Grand Hamdan Award, while Musculoskeletal Disorders, Orthopaedics, and Orthopaedic Mechanics were selected as the topics of the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence.


Honour Roll

1. Grand Hamdan International Award was awarded to:

Professor Harvey J. Alter, investigator at the Transfusion Medicine Department at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland, USA.

2. Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence was shared by three individuals:

Professor Sanford Markowitz is the holder of Markowitz-Ingalls Professorship of Cancer Genetics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and a medical oncologist and colon cancer researcher at Case Western Reserve University.

Professor David Tuveson, Deputy Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Centre New York, USA.

Dr Meritxell Huch, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge – UK.

3. Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services was awarded to:

Medecins Sans Frontieres, France

Emirates Airline Foundation, UAE

4. Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services was awarded to:

Dr Graham Forward, Australia

5. Hamdan Award for Medical College, Institute or Centre in the Arab World was awarded to:

Lalla Salma Foundation for the Prevention and Treatment of Cancers, Morocco

6. Hamdan Award for honouring distinguished personalities from the Arab World was awarded to:

Professor Mohammad Al Faqih, Medical Director of the Respiratory Therapy Programme at Riyadh Complex, Saudi Arabia.

7. Hamdan Award for Outstanding Clinical Department In the Public Sector in UAE was awarded to:

Cardiac Sciences Institute, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City - Abu Dhabi

8. Hamdan Award for Honouring Individuals Working in the Field of Medicine & Health in the UAE was awarded to:

Dr Hussain Abbas Mahboobi:

He was the first practising dentist not only in UAE, but also across the whole GCC region. He established his first clinic in Bur Dubai, and that was the first modern dental clinic in Dubai and across the whole region that was able to offer a number of professional dental services for the first time across the region.

In line with his pioneering work, Dr Mahboobi also started the first dental lab in Dubai in 1952, through which he was able to produce the first dental crowns and bridges in the region.

The late Dr Tayseer Ebrahim Barakat:

He started his career as a general manager at the UAE Ministry of Health in 1975. He then became a consultant to the ministry. During his time at the ministry, Dr Barakat conducted a detailed assessment of health services in UAE, and put together the first five-year plan for health services in the country, which tackled issues such as establishing new hospitals and medical centres, restructuring the ministry administratively and technically, defining job descriptions and job responsibilities across all MOH departments, divisions, and for all members of staff working for MOH. Furthermore, Dr Barakat initiated the necessary procedures needed for the ratification of some health-care laws, including the first law to regulate births and deaths registration.

Dr Shawqi Mir Hashem Khoury:

Dr Khoury is the first UAE specialist in internal medicine, with sub-specialisation in endoscopy. He launched the first independent centre for endoscopy across the region. He also established the first electronic record system for patient registration, in order to store important data such as details about the patient’s condition with visual data. This resulted in radical improvement in health-care provision because it speeds and facilitates access to patient details. This initiative was the foundation on which Dubai Health Authority depended to build a registry of all patients’ data, using the modern Electronic Medical Record- DHA EMR system.

9. Hamdan Award for Original Research Paper Published in The Hamdan Medical Journal was awarded to:

Purification and biochemical characterisation of a second type of neutral ceramidase from camel (Camelus dromedarius) brain, by Sehamuddin Galadari, Cell signalling laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, UAE

*‘Sensitisation of murine macrophages and human hepatoma cells to lipopolysaccharide-induced oxidative and nitrosative stress by aspirin’, by Haider Raza, Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, UAE