ABU DHABI / WAM
In line with the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), mandate to foster and grow a world-class academic research ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, Adek has announced that it has awarded over AED40 million in competitive funding to 54 successful research and development proposals.
The seven key sectors are Life Sciences (Health, Food and Agriculture), Aerospace, Education and Social Sciences, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Material Sciences & Manufacturing, Energy and Environment.
The successful grants were selected from over 320 proposals across two award programmes, the Abu Dhabi Award for Research Excellence, AARE, and the Abu Dhabi Young Investigator Award, AYIA. The number of grants given was 12 in Life Sciences, seven in Aerospace, 10 in Education and Social Sciences, seven in ICT, four in Material Sciences and Manufacturing, six in Energy and eight in Environment.
The winning submissions include a proposal by Rafael Song at NYUAD to design an artificial brain component on a chip, which will allow researchers to study autism spectrum disorders and enable research clinicians to develop treatments for this syndrome. Basam Ali of UAEU won a grant to develop novel protein therapies for chronic diseases that are endemic in UAE populations.
Muath Al Hasan of Al Ain University won a grant to develop novel space communications solutions that will aid the aerospace sector. Syed Aftab of Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, winner of the Young Investigator award, will work on developing a smart aircraft system modelled on the humpback whale for increased manoeuvrability and efficiency in unmanned aviation applications such as remote sensing, search and rescue and disaster relief.
Faisal Al Marzooqi of Khalifa University won a grant to develop a novel photothermal mechanism to remove toxic and undesirable heavy metal waste from water which often ends up in the brine byproduct of desalination.
The proposals were judged by the ADEK research team along with international peer reviewers from leading research institutions around the world with criteria including research quality and originality, the feasibility of the proposal, relevance to strategic sectors in Abu Dhabi, qualifications of applicants, the potential impact on the sector and human capital development.
Additional consideration was given for collaboration with industry, inter-institutional and STEM education engagement.
The Abu Dhabi Award for Research Excellence, AARE, marked its fourth round of funding this year. It is open to all full-time faculty in Higher Education Institutes, HEIs, geographically located within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi Young Investigator Award, AYIA, in its inaugural year awarded funds totalling AED1 million to six outstanding research proposals in targeted thematic areas. This competitive funding programme is open to young researchers in Abu Dhabi who are within six years of obtaining their terminal degree (PhD or equivalent).
Sara Musallam, ADEK Chairperson, said, “We have been entrusted with a healthy R&D fund from the Ghadan 21 government accelerator programme, aimed at improving Abu Dhabi’s competitiveness in the knowledge and innovation sector, enabling us to realise the vision of a Knowledge-Based Economy and we hereby reaffirm our commitment to achieving our mandate. Our team of peer reviewers noted the increased quality of research proposals received, reflecting the maturing research ecosystem in Abu Dhabi. The ability of the Emirate to attract high-quality researchers is fundamental to the development of critical mass in priority research areas, and the 2019 AARE and AYIA funding programmes are a fundamental building block in the further development of research excellence in Abu Dhabi Universities.”
Dr Habiba Alsafar, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Associate Professor at Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology and Director of Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology, a recipient of an AARE grant, said, “Our experience with ADEK is always positive because every time we develop proposals, we learn. Failure to receive funding does not mean that our research is unworthy we look at it as an opportunity to improve, but opportunities from ADEK drive us to excel and for this, we are grateful for being an AARE awardee this year.”