Posted on April 21, 2015

To further grow Qatar’s medical research enterprise, the Academic Health System (AHS) recently held a five-week advanced clinical research training course at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Clubhouse in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City. A total of 24 senior healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines and medical specialty groups in Qatar participated in intensive two-hour training sessions on weekday evenings in February and March.

Course participants were selected after a rigorous selection process from a group of nearly 100 applicants from across the AHS. The course followed an innovative design: it combined interactive lectures on epidemiology, biostatistics, study design, scientific writing, and, among other topics, clinical trials, with small group sessions, during which the participants with the help of experienced investigators learned how to develop their own clinical research proposals.

The course is part of the AHS Clinical and Translational Research Training Program, which seeks to develop a sophisticated medical research infrastructure and culture in Qatar. Under this successful program, the AHS has organized several introductory and advanced clinical research training courses over the past two years, training well over 500 people to date. The intro courses seek to familiarize a broad audience in the medical center with basic concepts and methodologies in clinical research, whereas the advanced courses are more hands-on and aimed at supporting healthcare professionals as they embark on, or advance, their clinical research career pathway.

According to Professor Edward Hillhouse, HMC’s Chief of Scientific, Faculty and Academic Affairs, “the AHS research training program is fully aligned with AHS’s aim to link health, education, and research and draw on the strengths of its partner institutions.” He added, “I laud the program’s ability to provide clinical investigators in Qatar with key skills to take clinical research forward for patient benefit.”

The advanced course was directed by Dr. Shahrad Taheri, Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), and taught by experts from HMC, WCMC-Q and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Dr. Taheri underscored that “the primary goal of the course is to equip a variety of healthcare professionals with the practical skills and knowledge they need to run clinical research projects that could lead to real innovations in the way care is delivered.”

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Course participants greatly valued the course. Dr. Abdulaziz Alkhulaifi, Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at HMC, stated that “the course has been an exciting experience and the time we spent at it was certainly worthwhile. There was a good mix of wide range of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds amongst the participants, which enriched the discussion with interesting thoughts and opinions.” Dr. Mahmoud Zirie, Senior Consultant and Head of the Endocrine-Diabetes Division at HMC, pointed out that “this course is beneficial especially for our junior colleagues who are starting their academic and research careers; attending such a course enables the participants to plan, design, execute, and successfully complete their research projects.”

As the next step, participants from this and last year’s advanced training courses will be invited to apply for pilot funding to develop collaborative clinical research projects under mentorship guidance from experienced AHS clinical investigators. This will give participants the opportunity to directly apply their new insights to clinical research questions pertinent to Qatar. Importantly, it will also strengthen research ties across the AHS.           

Professor Ibrahim Janahi, Executive Director of Research at HMC’s Medical Research Center, stated that “there are a significant number of extremely talented healthcare professionals here in Qatar and many of them have some excellent ideas for high impact clinical research projects. It is important we provide them with the training required, such as this advanced course, to translate those ideas into reality.”