Khalifa University Signs a Co-funded Research Agreement with Aldar Properties and Sandooq Al Watan to Make Reusable Contact Lenses for Color Blindness

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Collaboration Also Includes Researchers from Imperial College London

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Executive Officer of Aldar Properties

Abu Dhabi:Khalifa University of Science and Technology on this date signed a research agreement, which will be co-funded by Aldar properties and Sandooq Al Watan, to develop economical, reusable and disposable contact lenses for those suffering from colorblindness. The project team will include researchers from Khalifa University who are currently working in collaboration with researchers from Imperial College London. 

The sponsored research agreement was signed by His Excellency Ahmed Fikri, Acting Director General of Sandooq Al Watan, and Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University. The research team has already developed prototypes of the contact lenses, which will be refined for personal customization, and the grant from Sandooq Al Watan will support further development and commercialization of the product. 

The project aims to benefit numerous people who are suffering from color blindness, for which there is no cure at present. Though filtering glasses and special contact lenses are available, these glasses are often bulky and not compatible with vision-correcting glasses, while the lenses are expensive and do not benefit all users.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Executive Officer of Aldar Properties, said: “As a responsible business, Aldar is constantly looking for innovative and impactful initiatives that support the community and promote social responsibility. We are immensely proud to be partnering with Khalifa University and Sandooq Al Watan on such a noble cause. This research driven initiative will truly change lives for the better, and reinforce the UAE’s position as leader in pushing medical and research advancement. We very much look forward to seeing the positive outcomes of this initiative.” 

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi said: “We are glad to sign this agreement with Sandooq Al Watan and lead the project that will have broader economic, social and academic impact, globally. Our researchers have consistently worked for the benefit of the community and we see this smart contact lenses project as another example of their commitment to supporting the UAE’s healthcare objectives in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision. We also foresee possible intellectual property benefits, and further commercial potentials including manufacturing of contact lenses in 

the UAE, which highlights Khalifa University’s scientific innovation drive in collaboration with partner institutions.” 

His Excellency Ahmed Fikri, Acting Director General of Sandooq Al Watan, said: “This agreement comes as an integral part of our vision to advance scientific research in the UAE through investing in researchers to develop their research into emerging projects that will benefit the UAE society and the world; contributing towards strengthening the country’s position as a global leader in the field of healthcare. We are delighted with this agreement which marks an outstanding development in efforts made to provide cure to 300 million color blind patients around the world while supporting the UAE’s healthcare sector goals. We are confident of the positive results that the project team will achieve in the near future, especially with the involvement of Khalifa University’s elite researchers and the supportive environment offered at the institution to conduct cutting edge research that benefits humanity.”

Dr. Haider Butt, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Khalifa University, is the Principal Investigator of the project and his team members include Dr. Kyriaki Polychronopoulou, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Dr. Fahad Almaskari, Assistant Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering; Dr. Sung Mun Lee, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Habiba Alsafar, Acting Associate Dean for Student Affairs, College of Medicine and Health Sciences; Associate Professor, Genetics and Molecular Biology; Director of Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology; Dr. Ali K. Yetisen, senior lecturer, Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London. 

Other members of the research team include Dr. Mohamed Ismail Ahmed Gabr Elsherif, Dr. Fahad Alam, and Ahmed Elfadil Salih. Currently, there are three groups of Emirati undergraduate students who are doing their Senior Design Projects in relation to this research project. 

The project partners aim to manufacture lenses with various optical filtering bands to cover several types of color blindness. The lenses will be made with optimized composition for daily disposable, extended wear, and reusable purposes. The partners will also engage with the Khalifa Innovation Center (KIC), through Khalifa University’s Office of Technology Management and Innovation, to explore the establishment of a startup company.

About Aldar:

Aldar Properties PJSC is the leading real estate developer in Abu Dhabi, and through its iconic developments, it is one of the most well known in the United Arab Emirates, and wider Middle East region. From its beginnings in 2005 through to today, Aldar continues to shape and enhance the urban fabric of the UAE’s Capital City in addition to other key areas of the Emirate. 

About Khalifa University of Science and Technology:

Khalifa University of Science and Technology is a world-class, research-intensive institution that focuses on producing world leaders and critical thinkers in applied science and engineering. Khalifa University of Science and Technology endeavors to be a catalyst to the growth of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s rapidly developing knowledge economy as an education destination of choice and a global leader among research-intensive universities.

About Sandooq Al Watan:

Sandooq Al Watan is a community initiative that seeks to promote a sense of social cohesion in Emirati society. The initiative aligns with the UAE leadership’s vision for a sustainable development and a better future for the country and its citizens. It is rooted in the UAE’s national values of charity, generosity and social solidarity, and synchronizes community efforts to forecast and plan for the future. Sandooq Al Watan seeks to steer investments into the UAE’s human capital with projects and initiatives that focus on the strategic sectors that most affect people’s lives.