The University of Michigan (U-M) this month welcomed a delegation from the American University of Beirut (AUB), one of the premier academic institutions in the Middle East. Six AUB faculty and leaders, including three deans and AUB President Fadlo Khuri, M.D., spent three days in Ann Arbor meeting with high-level leaders from across U-M to discuss potential collaborations and academic exchange.
The visit was organized by Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., Michigan Medicine’s Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology.
“I could not be more excited about the relationships that were built between the University of Michigan and the American University of Beirut,” said Feldman, who is the director of the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery. “President Khuri and his staff lead a truly remarkable university and medical center, which I witnessed when I visited them last year. I know that the students, faculty and research at both universities will benefit greatly from future collaboration.”
Among the visit highlights: a new memorandum of understanding formalizing collaboration between the U-M School of Public Health and AUB. Other collaborations are in the works with both the U-M Medical School and the College of Engineering.
Founded in 1866 in Lebanon’s capital city, AUB has nearly 10,000 students enrolled across about 130 undergraduate and graduate programs, all following western-style curricula and instruction models. The institution’s leaders have increasingly been seeking partnerships to help advance AUB’s academic research capacity, something much needed in the region, President Khuri explained during a special guest seminar.
“We’ve been looking for real impactful partnerships with like-minded universities that share our values and want to make a difference, and I think U-M is a perfect partner for us,” Khuri said. “We are all here today sincerely aiming to build a strong partnership and collaboration.”
Khuri and his AUB colleagues attended dozens of meetings across the University of Michigan campus, including the School of Public Health, University Hospital, Life Science Institute, Rogel Cancer Center, College of Engineering, the Medical School’s Global REACH office, Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research and Diabetes Research Center.
Visitors from AUB also toured the Life Science Institute with Roger Cone, Ph.D., the Mary Sue Coleman Director & Research Professor for the institute. On the final day of the visit, U-M President Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., met with President Khuri, while U-M Acting Vice President of Research, Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., met with other AUB delegates.
While this marked the first time for AUB leaders to visit Ann Arbor, select U-M faculty have been exploring potential partnerships with AUB for more than year. Dr. Feldman visited the AUB Medical Center in 2018 to present on her work addressing diabetes and using stem cell therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Matthew Boulton, Senior Associate Dean for Global Public Health, led a delegation from the U-M School of Public Health to AUB in March of last year.
Iman Nuwayhid, M.D., Ph.D., the dean of the AUB Faculty of Health Sciences (the school’s public health equivalent), was part of the delegation to visit Ann Arbor this month, as were the deans of the schools of Medicine (Mohamed Sayegh, M.D.) and Engineering and Architecture (Alan Shihadeh, Ph.D.). Sami Azar, M.D., Head of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Assad Eid, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Diabetes Program, were also included. It was the largest AUB leadership delegation ever assembled for a visit to any international institution, Khuri said.
“Overall, it was a remarkably impactful and enlightening visit that strengthened the links between the Arab world’s premier university and a historic and distinguished U.S. partner institution that sits in proximity to the Arab-American heartland of south-east Michigan,” Khuri said. “We are confident it is the beginning of a very fertile partnership and look forward to seeing its many fruits.”