Cornell University to establish medical school in Qatar

Private Foundation in Qatar Commits $750 Million to Establish the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar -- Hailed as First of Its Kind and "an Important Diplomatic Initiative"

New York, N.Y. -- In an unprecedented expansion of the international presence of American higher education, Cornell University and a private foundation organized by the Emir of Qatar announced today (April 9, 2001) the establishment of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. The new medical college will offer a complete medical education in Qatar leading to a Cornell University M.D. degree, based on the same admission standards and curriculum as the New York campus. During the first 10 years, the operating costs of Cornell's medical college in Qatar are projected at $750 million.

Cornell's new medical college is the latest of several ambitious projects initiated by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development, a charitable foundation established in 1995 by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar's Emir and Head of State. During the past six years, the foundation has redefined the standards of quality for education in the Gulf region by building prestigious, high-quality primary and secondary schools in Qatar. The Qatar Foundation envisions the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar as a central feature of a planned "education city" in Qatar's capital, Doha, that also will include schools for pre-kindergarten to post-graduate students, specialized training in design arts and languages and sports facilities.

These schools, and the new medical college, were developed under the leadership of Sheikha Mouza Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, chairwoman of the Qatar Foundation, wife of the Emir, and dedicated campaigner for quality education. In describing Cornell's new medical college in Qatar, Sheikha Mouza said, "Our foundation and Cornell chose each other for this historic project. We have a shared commitment to quality, and to building an institution that will endure for generations -- continuing the great traditions of Cornell in training future leaders and healers from all over the world.""This agreement is a first in Cornell's 136-year history, and, in fact, a first for U.S. higher education," said Hunter Rawlings, president of Cornell. "Establishing a Qatar [location] of the Weill Cornell Medical College is an unprecedented example of the strength of American education, and it reflects the common commitment to educational opportunity that links all nations and peoples. This history-making venture is educational diplomacy at its finest."

Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, a friend of the Emir and Sheikha Mouza, said, "Shared experiences and shared values in education can be a strong basis for improved understanding and even peace among nations. As such, this partnership is an important diplomatic initiative in the Middle East."

Founded in 1898, and affiliated with The New York Hospital since 1927 and New York Presbyterian Hospital since 1998, Weill Cornell Medical College (formerly known as Cornell University Medical College) is among the top-ranked clinical and medical research centers in the world.

Qatar is a major energy-producing state on the Arabian Gulf with one of the world's largest reserves of natural gas. Qatar and the United States are close allies in preserving security in the Gulf region, and American energy firms have a large presence in Qatar. Although Qatar maintains sophisticated hospital facilities and universal health care is provided at government expense, the country does not presently have a medical college. Training physicians and pursuing medical research are particularly important goals for Qatar, where there is a high incidence of certain genetic diseases such as diabetes.

While several U.S. colleges and universities have partnerships and collaborative programs abroad, the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is unique insofar as it will confer a Cornell degree. The college will be the first co-educational higher-learning environment in Qatar. Cornell will select all academic and administrative staff, and admit students according to existing university standards. The program will commence with a two-year pre-medical (non-degree) and four-year medical curriculum leading to the Cornell degree of Doctor of Medicine.

Most of the faculty are expected to be recruited from the Medical College and from other New York schools. Daniel Alonso, M.D., the former senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor of pathology at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, has been appointed to serve as the inaugural dean of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. He will report to Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., dean of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar truly extends Cornell's standards, quality, and mission into the world," said Gotto. "This institution will have the same standards central to Cornell's heritage. It will afford our students and faculty in the U.S. new research and referral opportunities. It will contribute in a direct way to the aspirations and needs of the people of Qatar and of the region."

Dr. Alonso said, "Her Highness Sheikha Mouza and the Qatar Foundation have demonstrated their vision and commitment to the establishment of a world-class medical college in Qatar. I look forward to the opportunity to represent Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College in this unique undertaking that will significantly expand educational opportunities in the Middle East."

The first pre-medical program class for the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is scheduled to enter in fall 2002, and the first medical program class in the fall of 2004. The first Cornell degree will be awarded in the spring of 2008.

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