AUB and CNRS celebrate prized partnership, mutual trust, and shared benefits

AUB and the National Center for Scientific Research celebrated their joint annual scholarships in a ceremony honoring three categories of awardees for the academic year 2017-18: eight undergraduate students, 13 PhD students, and 56 faculty members at AUB.

Established in 2012, the prestigious national award helps fund students and faculty at AUB based on competitive criteria. Over the last three years, AUB attracted 40% of the 76 undergraduate students granted scholarships. This year, the eight new undergraduate scholarship recipients have been accepted into the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB), and Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), joining 44 ongoing undergraduate candidates. The 13 new PhD candidates for the year 2017-18, who are pursuing their research at the Faculty of Medicine, FAS, and MSFEA, join 32 ongoing doctoral fellows within the joint scholarship program. In addition, 56 new grants, worth $1.6 million of mutual AUB-CNRS investment, were awarded to faculty members at AUB’s six faculties, joining 65 ongoing awarded projects.

“In all our collaborations with AUB, we are confident in a joint commitment to support scientific research and create opportunities for excellence and innovation,” said Dr. Mouin Hamze, CNRS secretary general, who spoke about the “exemplary public-private partnership for research, which builds on respective strengths within an environment of mutual trust and shared benefits.”

“Strongly believing that science is the main engine for building a knowledge economy and scientific research is the cornerstone of progress and development in our society,” added Hamze.

Among the projects which won the Grant Research Programme (GRP) award is one submitted by Dr. Fadi El-Jardali, Professor of Health Policy and Systems in the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at AUB, Co-Director of the Center for Systematic Reviews on Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK), Director of the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center, and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Evidence Informed Policy and Practice based at AUB.

Entitled “Applying an impact-oriented approach to support, protect and address the needs of Health Care Workers in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings,” Dr. El Jardali’s awarded project aims to identify innovative approaches to support and protect health care professionals in conflict zones, as well as suggest policy frameworks to be adopted during the post conflict phase. Dr. Elie Akl, Professor of Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Co-Director of SPARK Center is a Co-Principal investigator on this project.

“This project represents another key endeavor by the SPARK and K2P Centers, since it responds to a critical situation that health professionals are facing today across the Arab world”, stated Dr. El-Jardali. “By the end of this research project, we aim to use the data and evidence obtained from systematic reviews to achieve tangible outcomes and recommendations that could be put into practice, and that would eventually enable policymakers to work towards improving working conditions of health care workers in conflict zones in Arab countries”, added El-Jardali.

SPARK is the first center of its kind in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean Region that specializes in the production of systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis products that respond to health policy and system priorities at the national and regional levels. SPARK is a joint collaboration between FHS and FM. Founded by FHS at AUB, the K2P Center is one of the three Centers of research, practice, and policy at FHS representing its 360° system-network approach to shaping public health policies in the Arab region. K2P aims to be a leading hub for strengthening public health policy and improving health outcomes in the Arab world through collective problem solving.

In 2017, CNRS signed eight agreements with main Lebanese universities including AUB, assessing proposals jointly based on international review criteria and co-funding projects. The collaboration promotes the evolution of research and innovation for sustainable development that adapts to regional realities, particularly as the region continues to face escalating challenges related to natural resources, human capacity building, migration, and climate change.

Dr. Zaher Dawy, associate provost and chair of the Graduate Council, presented the awardees, adding that the ceremony is a “celebration of academic excellence, research achievement, and creativity.” He lauded “the strong partnership between two leading and model institutions for impactful development, advancement, and innovation in our beloved country,” and highlighted the visible increase in CNRS scholarships granted to candidates at AUB as well as the rise in the percentage of CNRS awardees joining AUB.

AUB President Fadlo Khuri considered this partnership “a vital step as Lebanon moves towards a more balanced, knowledge-based economy,” urging the importance of taking advantage of the great pool of talent in Lebanon and producing opportunities for more of them to stay and develop new economies.

“I would like to salute the prized partnership between CNRS and AUB,” said President Khuri. “This partnership enriches and empowers our research engine and therefore sits at the very heart of what we want to achieve. We at AUB and at CNRS are committed to maintain and nurture this important partnership for the benefit of our future generations, this remarkable country, region, and the world.”