Buck CEO Brian Kennedy Travels to Middle East
Institute’s Global Reach Increases with Trip that Focuses on Type II Diabetes
Buck CEO Brian Kennedy, PhD is making the Institute’s mission to extend healthspan a matter of global health. Kennedy recently returned from Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates where he explored collaborative partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, governments concerned with aging and institutes dedicated to finding treatments and prevention for chronic diseases – particularly Type II diabetes.
Although each of the groups Kennedy met with had specific areas of interest, he pointed out, “Aging and its associated diseases are becoming a global concern. As the treatments for infectious diseases get better and more accessible, the chronic diseases of aging are dramatically increasing throughout the world.” During this trip Kennedy said much of the focus was on Type II diabetes – for which aging is a predominant risk factor.
The Arab world, not unlike the U.S., is experiencing an epidemic of Type II Diabetes stemming from rich diets, lack of exercise and genetic predispositions. Kennedy saw the evidence first hand in overweight populations and an extreme overabundance of fast food outlets. “Due to lifestyle changes, their diet includes more fat and carbohydrates as opposed to their traditional diet of mostly proteins, whole grains, and vegetables,” he said. “In just a few decades, their primary jobs have drastically changed as well. Most people were fishermen and herders while in today’s world they are sitting behind desks. Additionally, the extremely hot weather makes it more difficult to exercise outside.”
To help combat the epidemic of Type II diabetes in the Middle East the Buck is reaching out to those nations, companies and facilities that would like to develop their own top-level research programs and that are actively working to create therapeutic approaches to prevent the disease. During his travels, Kennedy visited the Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, as well as Abdi ibrahim Pharmaceuticals, in Turkey. Kennedy said, “The Dasman Institute is impressive. Not only do they work on treatments, but they also focus on education about prevention. However, facilities and equipment are a just a part of the story. These facilities need trained personnel to lead the research and that’s where the Buck can help. We can guide and train post-doctoral fellows to become principal investigators and show them how to run research programs.”
Kennedy also took time to visit important landmarks during his global tour – and brought an expanded viewpoint back to the Buck. “The Institute is in the unique position of having a mission that every nation and culture can support, ‘Extending the Healthspan – the healthy years of life’, is a goal that even those with vastly opposing viewpoints can agree on.”
He particularly enjoyed visiting the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi – famous for construction that “unites the world”. The Mosque was built by artisans from around the world featuring materials from Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE. Kennedy also attended inaugural events at Zayed University’s new Abu Dhabi campus. He was hosted by His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.