Integrated medical services provider VPS Healthcare has announced that is has allocated $1m for research and development in several key areas of medicine and treatment, focusing on chronic diseases and illnesses associated with old age.
VPS Healthcare – an innovative healthcare provider that is expanding its network of hospitals and clinics across the UAE – has outlined a plan for its Research Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art R&D practice dedicated to expanding our knowledge of chronic diseases and to provide innovative treatment solutions to help the medical community combat a variety of illnesses. “The first comprehensive project the Centre will undertake will be the study of Vitamin D-related ailments,” explained Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, VPS Healthcare’s Managing Director.
To lead this effort, VPS Healthcare has appointed Dr. Afrozul Haq, a renowned expert in the field of Vitamin D research, to act as the principle scientist for the Centre’s inaugural project. Dr. Haq, who pioneered Vitamin D research in the UAE in 2006 at SKMC, will work to establish a solid R&D platform within the rapidly expanding VPS Healthcare infrastructure. This is something Dr. Haq views as essential to the future of preventative medicine.
“Medical services cannot evolve without a commitment to research and development,” Dr. Shamsheer explained. “We all know that innovation is a key driver of sustained healthcare improvement, and that no new technologies or medications have ever been introduced without breakthroughs brought from purposeful research.” He cited as examples many treatments that are considered common today, such as insulin for diabetes and pervasive anti-cholesterol drugs – medical achievements that were unthinkable 50 years ago, but that quickly became a reality due to significant investments in expeditionary medical research.
The Research Centre of Excellence will work closely with a variety of partners in the UAE in the pursuit of medical innovation. The Centre will be able to leverage the research abilities of entities such as the burgeoning Khalifa University, Zayed University and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, as well as VPS Healthcare’s many international partners.
The Research Centre’s initial focus on Vitamin D will address key issues such as the causes and consequences of deficiencies, and the effect deficiency has on pregnancy within the UAE.
“Our research will explore the link between dental caries in children, maternal Vitamin D concentrations at term, and the link between maternal Vitamin D levels with birth weight of the newborn,” said Dr. Haq. “Also impact of Vitamin D deficiency on chronic kidney disease patients requiring dialysis.”
It is the Centre’s expectation that the findings of its upcoming research will facilitate the creation of new protocols in the supplementation and fortification guidelines for Vitamin D, as well as provide insights into the retrospective and interventional aspects of using supplements. This work will be conducted with some of the most advanced technology available for medical research.
“The Department of Laboratory Medicine at all Hospitals of VPS Healthcare are fully equipped with advanced technology platforms” said Vinay Batra, VPS Healthcare’s CEO of Diagnostic Services. “Vitamin D testing at VPS Healthcare laboratories is performed using electrochemiluminescence (ECL) detection technology, which is approved by FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) offering broad measuring range and high detection for assessment of patients.”
“Our Laboratories are participating in the International External Quality Assurance Programs,” continued Batra, “and are fully integrated with EMR (Electronic Medical Record) to facilitate the clinician requirement for treatment and Research.”
Within the Middle East, R&D investment has been historically small, averaging a lower percent of GDP than in developed countries. “At VPS Healthcare, we believe that research and development are essential to dynamic, growing economies,” said Dr. Shamsheer. “Our hope is that through its investment in R&D, the Centre will both contribute to the economic goals of the UAE, as well as foster innovation that will assist in the countering of many debilitating and fatal diseases.”
The Research Centre is expected to attract interest from both local and international patients, as well as encourage greater Emirati student and professional participation.