Biomedical research in the Middle East
Biomedical Research and Development in the Middle East/GCC(Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, a regional organization also known as Gulf Cooperation Council)
According to a recent Value Edge Research report, the GCC region is underrepresented in global biomedical R&D. Of the 110 biomedical patents filed with the GCC Patents Office, only 3 are of GCC origin. Of almost 2000 biomedical articles published by UAE-based researchers between 1998 and 2007, only 5 (0.3%) have appeared in major international medical journals. Despite the presence of sophisticated clinical facilities, there is very little drug development underway in the region. Of 71764 globally registered clinical trials, 116 (0.2%) involve GCC countries.
According to Value Edge Research services, a global research and analytics company (www.valuedgeindia.com), GCC countries have proposed ambitious technology, innovation and R&D promotion plans. Qatar has committed 2.8% of GDP towards R&D  and Saudi Arabia has allocated US$ 32 billion towards higher education, training, science and technology and academic R&D. Organizations such as the Qatar Foundation, the National Authority for Scientific Research (UAE) and the Arab Science and Technology Foundation co-ordinate and support R&D efforts at national and regional levels. At least 8 investment agencies support R&D, including the National Research Fund (UAE) and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.
R&D investment is increasing, but the GCC is only beginning to build an important R&D base. Over 40, mostly public sector, institutions are involved in biomedical R&D and most offer research grants. There are at least 5 biotechnology park initiatives underway and some universities have announced ambitious plans to undertake biomedical R&D in the region. A central GCC Patent Office in Riyadh aims to ensure IP protection. Pockets of biomedical research excellence exist in areas including genomic studies and veterinary medicine.
R&D excellence requires the commitment of significant resources and strong political will, but the long-term benefits can be substantial. Countries known for their science and technology capabilities tend to lead the world in the percentage of GDP allocated for R&D. Biomedical R&D has a positive impact on economic growth through the creation of jobs through clusters of businesses that are related to each other. Research centers and universities that are the primary venues of Biomedical R&D.
- GCC Patent Office database accessed 18 April 2008
- Bibliometric analyses of biomedical research outputs in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (1988-2007) - Nisrine Bissar-Tadmouri, PhD, MSc, Ghazi O. Tadmouri, PhD, MSc.
- http://www.clinicaltrials.gov accessed 21 April 2009
- The Peninsula, 9 March 2009
- AME Info, 12 January 2009
- Value Edge Research