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Dental School to open institute and care facility in Arab emirate

An architectural rendering of the building in Dubai that will house the Boston University Institute for Dental Research and Education and the Boston University Dental Health Center. Image courtesy of Dubai Healthcare City

Next year at this time, Boston University will bring first-class dental care and training to the Middle East. BU’s School of Dental Medicine plans to open two facilities under one roof in a regional medical complex in Dubai, known as Dubai Healthcare City.

The preliminary agreement, recently signed by University President Robert A. Brown, Spencer Frankl, dean of the SDM, and  Muhadditha Al Hashimi, chief executive officer of Dubai Healthcare City, outlines plans for the Boston University Institute for Dental Research and Education and the Boston University Dental Health Center. The School of Dental Medicine beat out about 20 other dental schools from around the world that had responded to a request for proposals from the planners of Dubai Healthcare City.

The institute, which plans to open its doors in July 2008, will offer training in a wide range of specialties to dentists who have graduated from dental school. Training programs will be developed and overseen by dental school faculty, including Thomas Kilgore, associate dean of SDM’s office of advanced education, who will become the institute’s chief academic officer. The institute is in the process of submitting an application for accreditation from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the United Arab Emirates.

Kilgore says the type of training provided by the institute is largely missing in the region. He says SDM’s initiatives in Dubai fit Frankl’s vision that the dental school be a “school without walls,” providing both education and care in the real world, “to be out there and not isolated,” whether that’s working in Boston’s community health clinics or overseas.

Kilgore will also oversee the Dental Health Center, which will provide comprehensive, prevention-oriented dental services to residents of the region and visitors to Dubai. The center will open its doors to patients early next year. Eventually, the center will have 47 chairs for dental exams and procedures.

“Our hallmark is that we’ll be offering an American standard, heavily prevention-oriented, state-of-the-art new technology dental practice,” says Kilgore. He will be joined by about a dozen full-time Boston University faculty, who will initially staff both the institute and the Dental Care facility. The staff numbers will be doubled as the facilities become fully operational. Senior dental school faculty also will fly in to teach small courses, give lectures, and provide clinical demonstrations.

Dubai Healthcare City is a 500-acre free trade zone within the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates that is being developed in partnership with several international health-care institutions, with the goal of becoming a world-class academic medical campus.

“Several years ago, the ruler of Dubai, understanding that gas and oil were not the economy of the future, decided to reinvent the emirate and look to develop science, technology, tourism, and business,” explains Kilgore.

Tax-free zones such as Dubai Healthcare City were created to attract businesses and investment. Currently, the campus contains mainly clinics and corporate offices of pharmaceutical and medical technology firms. In addition to BU’s dental facilities, the campus will eventually contain a wellness center, private clinics, and a major teaching hospital.

“The collaboration with such a renowned world-class American medical and academic institution will further consolidate our position as a regional health-care hub,” Al Hashimi says of the partnership with BU. “This strengthens our status as a center for health-care quality and excellence in the Middle East.”

Chris Berdik can be reached at cberdik@bu.edu.