Seoul National University Ink Deal with King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC)

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Korean clinical trials experts from Seoul National University (SNUH) have inked a deal with King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), to train the Saudis on how to conduct clinical trials.

This collaboration is quite interesting as the Koreans have been accelerating their impact on the global clinical trials market. They are now venturing beyond Asia and to the Middle East to the Saudi Kingdom to transfer knowledge, best practices and expertise in how to conduct gold standard, clinical research. 

The Deal

The recent deal got signed on June 26, 2019, during the “Korea-Saudi Arabia Partnership Convention” which was sponsored by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. The agreement dictates that Seoul National University will develop and package an advanced clinical testing capability training program for about 80 KAIMRC clinical trial personnel for two years.

Saudi VISION 2030

The Saudi Arabian government is seeking to modernize it’s economic and social and diversify from dependence on a petrol economy. KAIMRC noted in its press release “In particular, the agreement is more meaningful as it is in accordance with Saudi’s ‘VISION 2030.” The signing ceremony was held during Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to South Korea.

Seoul National University Clinical Director

Jang In-jin noted, “This agreement is an example of Korea’s ability to perform clinical trials in the global market and will serve as an opportunity to improve the capabilities of the pharmaceutical and bio-industry not only on the local level but also internationally.”

The Saudis are Interested in the Korean Model

Back in April 2019, TrialSite News discussed the success of the Korean model in “Korea Drug Development Fund (KDDF): Korean Pathways where we reported now at least some sources show Korea now ranks number 6 worldwide for a number of clinical trials reported by the Korea National Enterprise for Clinical Trials (KoNECT). Moreover, Seoul has the most clinical trials per capita than any other city worldwide. Considering a decade prior Korea wasn’t that prominent in the global clinical trial ecosystem it represents remarkable progress.

Korean has designed a unique model combining state actors, research institutions and universities not to mention large corporate participation—a model we have seen in other facets of Korean economic life. They also invested in industry groups which actively collaborated with peers in the United States, for example. 

What does a Saudi Global Clinical Research Model Look Like?

Can Saudi’s truly mimic the Korean model? Only time will tell but they desperately need to diversify and modernize their economy and society and clinical and biomedical research represents a significant window of opportunity for this influential Arab nation to leapfrog from where it sits today.

Clearly, with the Saudi VISION 2030, they are clearly recognizing that they must make fundamental changes. Of course, there are other elements (political, socio-cultural, etc.) that comes into play here which this digital news space will not address. 

What a Close Neighbor for Other Ideas?

But suffice to say we are in a time of great biomedical innovation, advancement, and openness and the Saudi’s if truly intent on innovating and driving value could also look very closely at neighboring models in Israel. A neighbor, Israel, a tiny country with a small population of 9 million has become, from a relative size perspective, a world leader in biotech R&D.

This media operation argues that Saudi probably won’t be able to purely mimic the Korean model and will need to understand how to adapt its research and development and business culture to leverage the assets, location, and resources it does have and it will only be able to do so if it opens up even further which of course requires, even more, change there.

Of course, TrialSite News has followed its primary research universities and are encouraged by their work, passion, and intensity for impact on the world scene. The desire and intellectual curiosity are getting there—just a few other pieces need to fall into place.