Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) has celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Since it started academic operations in 2002, the college has created 112 new doctors, established a world-class biomedical team and contributed to further Qatar’s goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy.
The college was opened in October 2002,at a ceremony presided over by His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation.
Welcoming the tenth anniversary milestone, Her Highness said: “A decade ago, we welcomed Weill Cornell to Qatar, to be part of our vision for an innovative, healthy future for the people of Qatar and the region. Today the college is successfully delivering on its commitment to produce world-class doctors and to become a centre of excellence in education, research and clinical training.”
The college was established with the aim of acting as a beacon of academic excellence in the region. WCMC-Q remains the only college to offer a United States M.D degree outside of that country. It has been able to do this by applying the same rigorous admissions standards and curriculum as its parent campus in New York.
As well as having graduated 112 doctors from a total of 24 nations across the world, the college has entered into partnerships with Hamad Medical Corporation, Sidra Medical and Research Center and Aspetar sports and orthopedic hospital. These relationships ensure that students gain practical experience of treating patients but also encourage them to remain in institutions in Qatar, ensuring the knowledge they have remains in the country.
Along with offering its M.D. degree, WCMC-Q now has a strong research program comprising 28 active research laboratories that target multiple areas of biomedical research. This provides significant breadth to tackle complex diseases such as diabetes, obesity and related cardiovascular illnesses. The research division successfully bids for millions of dollars of funding annually and is already producing cutting-edge results with work published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.
At a high-profile event on October 14 marking WCMC-Q’s 10-year partnership with Qatar Foundation, the college’s achievements and legacy were celebrated. Dr. Javaid I. Sheikh, Dean of WCMC-Q, said the anniversary of the college is a tremendous achievement for everyone concerned.
Dr. Sheikh said: “The establishment of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar was always going to be a challenge, but everyone involved in this great adventure has risen to that challenge and surpassed all expectations. The progress that has been made in the last 10 years is quite astounding. A decade ago we did not even have a building to call our own and now we are here having graduated 112 doctors and with a fully-fledged research program.”
“For these, and so many other achievements, I must thank all of our faculty, staff members and students. The dedication, hard work and vision they have shown over the last decade leaves one feeling truly humble. Of course, there are two people without whom none of this would have happened, His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation. Without their vision and drive we would not be celebrating this anniversary now and I hope that what we have created in Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar lives up to their every expectation.”
“The goal for Qatar to become a knowledge-based economy rather than being based on hydrocarbons was always ambitious. However, I believe the country’s leaders have been justified in that ambition and that Weill Cornell is helping to lead the way towards a new future.”
H.E. Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Ph.D., President of Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Vice President, Education, Qatar Foundation, paid tribute to the college’s work.
His Excellency said: “During the past 10 years Weill Cornell Medical College has played an important role in the establishment of medical education in Qatar through its collaboration with a number of local organizations. As we move into the second decade of our partnership, it will continue to support us in strengthening our research activities and attracting increased numbers of Qataris into the medical profession.”
When students were first admitted to WCMC-Q in 2002, they were taught in a section of Qatar Academy’s building. But in 2003 the new state-of-the-art college was officially opened. With its laboratories, lecture halls, clinical skills area and classrooms, it provided world-class academic facilities for the faculty and the doctors of the future.
Sanford I. Weill, Chairman of the Board of Overseers of WCMC, said that achieving this ten-year milestone had been a labor of love: “My wife, Joan, joins me in expressing our heartfelt congratulations on the 10-year anniversary of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. Achieving this milestone has been a labor of love and we are very grateful for our strong partnership with His Highness The Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and the Qatar Foundation. Together, we have built something special that will continue to attract the best and brightest from all over the region, as well as the world. We take immense pride that our students in Qatar are doing equally as well as our students in New York as it relates to their test scores and where they are chosen for their residencies. The fact that we are still the only American medical school to offer an M.D. degree outside the U.S. speaks volumes of the hard work, dedication and determination of the entire Weill Cornell team.”
Dr. Fathy Saoud, President of Qatar Foundation recalled sitting with Mr. Weill as they watched WCMC-Q’s first intake of students – the Class of 2008 – graduate: “Both of us were sitting on the stage watching these graduating students coming to take their diplomas and when I looked at him we discovered that both of us had tears of happiness in our eyes.”
Dr. Saoud added that the signing of the partnership between Cornell University and Qatar Foundation was significant for two reasons. Firstly it demonstrated the faith that an Ivy League university had in Qatar Foundation and this encouraged others to follow Cornell’s lead. Secondly a medical degree was considered a joint top priority for Qatar Foundation along with engineering.
Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari, Managing Director of HMC, said: “WCMC-Q has delivered a great boost to medical education in this country over the last decade. They have been great partners to HMC in our quest to become an Academic Health System and our fruitful collaboration has seen many excellent clinicians graduate from our joint programs. I look forward to us working together for years to come.”
WCMC-Q’s commitment to Qatar is strong with faculty, staff members and students proud to be helping to create a knowledge-based economy, a new generation of doctors and to be making a difference in Qatar. Students and faculty seize every opportunity to encourage others to follow in their footsteps, from hosting the Medicine Unlimited college open day, to taking part in mass immunization programs, everyone at WCMC-Q is keen to give something back to Qatar. The ties to the New York campus have also helped, with students able to take advantage of the facilities in the United States to possibly gain different perspectives, bringing them back to the Middle East.
Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, said: “The strong spirit of cooperation and friendship that exists between the home campus of Weill Cornell in New York, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and Qatar Foundation has seen the new university in the Middle East flourish in the ten years since it was established.”
“It has been immensely encouraging and rewarding to see faculty, students and staff in Qatar rise to the challenge of achieving the same world-class standards of excellence in patient care, education and research as those of Weill Cornell in New York. The success of WCMC-Q in meeting this benchmark, along with the dedication to the project shown by Qatar Foundation and the visionary leadership of Dean Javaid Sheikh, give us a great platform for establishing the university as the leading medical education institution in the region.”
“By honoring our shared commitment to excellence, the next ten years offer WCMC-Q a unique opportunity to produce a large cohort of highly skilled physicians, expand the boundaries of biomedical research and help to set new standards in global healthcare.”
Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Dean Emeritus and Co-Chairman of the Board of Overseers, Weill Cornell Medical College, said: “The establishment of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar in 2002 was a pioneering and strikingly bold initiative that has proven enormously successful and surpassed all expectations. Heartfelt congratulations to this remarkable institution, which came about through fruitful interactions between Qatar Foundation, Weill Cornell in New York, and Cornell University. I am fully confident that over the next ten years, WCMC-Q will become a world-renowned center of biomedical research, clinical care, and medical education.”
Dr. William F. Owen, CEO of Sidra Medical and Research Center, added: “Even with best execution of an idea, lasting success comes from the power of the vision and its meaning to the people that it touches. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar has accomplished these feats with extraordinary success.”
“Sir Matthew Arnold, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools for 19th century Britain, said, ‘The lasting benefit of higher education is getting to know the best which has been thought… the best that has been said… and the best to be discovered’. Most scholars agree that the third lasting expectation of the academe – to see and learn the answers to difficult problems – offers profound inspiration and ignites spirited passion.
“WCMC-Q fulfills that third expectation of the academe in a uniquely powerful way. WCMC-Q inspires emotion for the life sciences: most importantly for improving human health through education, service and discovery. It is the remarkable ability of an elite, health sciences college like WCMC-Q to interconnect basic curiosity, the passion to help others, and desire to leave a legacy through the next generation that makes this college very unique and attractive. These interconnections are evident in its tripartite mission of creating new medical knowledge, caring for the sick, and nurturing the next generation of doctors who will be the best, the brightest, and the most compassionate. Who would not find this attractive and therefore predict anything but great success for WCMC-Q? What to do for the future – keep doing the same.”
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