AKU-UCSF Partnership

December 2014

Haile T Debas and Firoz Rasul sign an MoU  with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger & His Highness the Aga Khan standingThe University of California, San Francisco is amongst the best research-intensive universities in the world and recognized as one of the foremost centres for basic, applied and translational stem cell research. In the 2014 QS World University Ranking for medicine programme, it ranked nine. The AKU-UCSF partnership was initiated with the aim to make advancements in the quality, access and integration of primary health care to promote equitable human advancement and social justice in the less privileged parts of the world.

On November 2, 2009, President Firoz Rasul and Dr Haile T. Debas, then Executive Director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan and Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Governor of California. The universities agreed that an initial focus of the partnership would be research on developing an integrated primary health care (IPHC) model and stem cell biology.

Photo: Zahur Ramji/AKDN

A. Integrated Primary Health Care Programme

Proposal: An 18-month research and education capacity building programme in Integrated Primary Health Care in East Africa. 

Key strategies identified were:

  • Establishing New Training Programs and Mentorship Support through Exchange (MSE)

  • Health System Strengthening

  • Building Health Systems Research Capacity in Primary Care

Status: The programme was successfully carried out between 2011 and 2013.

B. Stem Cell Programme

Proposal: The Board of Trustees approved and endorsed “stem cell biology” as one of AKU’s core research themes in 2009. A bi-phased programme has been proposed to develop critical capacity in stem cell science and regenerative medicine therapies. A joint presentation of the roadmap was made to the Board of Trustees by Dr Lalani and Dr Arnold Kriegstein, Director, Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, UCSF. The Board gave its enthusiastic approval to the plan.

Phase 1 (2015-2019)

A five-year start-up plan for a stem cell science and therapies that will establish the critical mass of stem cell researchers and the state-of-the-art infrastructure which are prerequisites to achieving these objectives. Specifically this phase involves:

  • focused research;
  • capacity building in basic, clinical and translational research;
  • education and training;
  • construction of core research facilities and regulatory frame works; and, public information, engagement and advocacy.

Phase 2 (2020-2024)

Establish an AKU-Centre for Regenerative Medicine.