Spring 2006 Table of Contents
International Partners in Health
Destination Dubai

From left: Dr. Nicolas Elian, Dr. Stuart M. Hirsch, and Dr. Joseph Zaky

Center: H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, and President of the Department of Health and Medical Services, open the AEEDC Dubai 10th Anniversary Celebration. To the Sheikh's left, assisting in the ribbon cutting, is Dr. Howard Lieb, Special Assistant to Dean Alfano.

NYUCD participates in 10th Anniversary UAE International Dental Conference and Arab Dental Exhibition

To mark the 10th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) International Dental Conference and Arab Dental Exhibition (AEEDC Dubai 2006), a small NYUCD delegation traveled to Dubai for five days to present lectures on current and future concepts in implant dentistry and to showcase opportunities for UAE dentists to participate in NYU’s Advanced Study Program in Implant Dentistry for International Dentists.

The group included Dr. Stuart M. Hirsch, Associate Dean for International Affairs and Development; Dr. Nicolas Elian, Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry and Director of the Advanced Program in Implant Dentistry for International Dentists; and Dr. Joseph Zaky, Clinical Associate Professor of Implant Dentistry.

In recent years, NYUCD has developed close ties with education and government officials in the UAE, thanks in large part to Dr. Elian. A native of Lebanon, Dr. Elian travels frequently to Dubai and to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, to visit family and friends. During his visits, Dr. Elian tries to recruit students to enroll in the Advanced Program in Implant Dentistry for International Dentists. But he harbors an additional, longer-term goal: to close the gap between the level of dental education that currently exists in the Gulf region and what it should be by establishing an NYUCD satellite campus in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

“While people in the UAE enjoy a very high standard of living and a thoroughly modern lifestyle, the level of healthcare education and, therefore, of health care, has not caught up with the level of wealth,” says Dr. Elian. “For example, there are great hospitals in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. But the local physicians do not have the training required to raise healthcare to the same high level as the other western-style services citizens enjoy.”

To that end, Abu Dhabi has built a Center for Excellence and Applied Research and Training (CERT), and has invited a number of U.S. medical schools to establish satellite teaching facilities. Currently, the Mayo Clinic, Harvard, Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University all have established a presence in the region through continuing medical education programs. In addition to upgrading the level of medical care, this arrangement has the added benefit of allowing citizens of the Gulf region who have conditions that are too complicated to be treated at home to travel to the schools’ affiliated hospitals in the U.S.

While medical education still has a long way to go to reach Western standards, dental education has even farther to go, according to Dr. Elian. There are many dental schools, but they do not offer a strong curriculum, and to date, there are no UAE-U.S. dental school partnerships similar to the medical model.

Dr. Elian is convinced that partnering with NYUCD is the answer to the UAE’s dental education problem. “Dentists in the UAE are desperate to improve their education,” says Dr. Elian. “Moreover, the leadership is smart, progressive, and sees education as the key to the future. It is my dream that it will be possible for the UAE and NYUCD to partner to improve dental education by establishing a satellite campus to train dentists in the latest Western dental therapies and technologies.”