Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa attended two ceremonies in Seattle this week, during which the Aga Khan University (AKU) signed memorandums of understanding with two American institutions. 

On 4 March, the University of Washington (UW) signed a memorandum of understanding with AKU to formalize their existing partnership and to leverage complementary strengths to further expand research, service, and education in low- and middle-income countries. On 6 March, AKU and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and related diseases.

The agreement with the University of Washington was signed by UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Aga Khan University President Firoz Rasul. Representing the Aga Khan Development Network were Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, and AKU Provost Carl Amrhein. Princess Salwa, a graduate of the University of Washington’s class of 2012, played a key role in encouraging the nascent partnership.

“We are honoured to partner with Aga Khan University to advance the health and well-being of communities around the globe. By combining our respective strengths and shared values, we can be a powerful force for creating access to healthcare and education, as well as supporting research and discovery,” Cauce said.

Early collaborative activities between UW and AKU have included the launch of a paid international internship program with positions in Africa and Asia for UW students, joint projects to build research capacity in human immunodeficiency viruses/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV-AIDs) and human papilloma virus (HPV), and a range of other faculty collaborations.

“Ultimately, this partnership is about two universities based on opposite sides of the globe coming together on the basis of their shared values to advance knowledge and create opportunities for learning and discovery that benefit people in both the developed and developing worlds,” said Firoz Rasul. “Even prior to the signing of this agreement we have begun collaborating on several important projects, and I am confident that we will have a significant impact in multiple countries in the years ahead.”

Under the agreement, the UW will offer the AKU and AKDN technical advice and guidance in data science and implementation science, access to formal degree and training programs, and advice and support in transforming the AKU into a research-intensive university. The parties will also seek to expand the number of joint research activities and student and faculty exchanges.

The agreement with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch) was signed by Firoz Rasul and President and Director of Fred Hutch, Dr Gary Gilliland. The agreement aims to foster joint international scientific research projects, training programs, and infrastructure development in low- and middle-income settings, primarily in East Africa.

“Cancer is a global problem that requires global cooperation to deliver new diagnostics and treatments that will save lives around the world,” Rasul said. “We are proud to be partnering with Fred Hutch, a world leader in cancer research and care, to tackle one of the biggest challenges in global health today.”

“I believe we can reach curative approaches to most, if not all, cancers by 2025, and it’s through this type of collaboration that we’ll get there,” said Gilliland. “Together, Aga Khan University and Fred Hutch have the potential to improve quality of life for cancer patients on a global scale, through enhanced treatment, training and scientific research programs. I thank Prince Rahim and Princess Salwa Aga Khan and President Firoz Rasul for joining us at Fred Hutch today to celebrate and share our ideas for this exciting collaboration.”