Johns Hopkins receives $50M gift to transform stroke diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation

Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute, funded by gift from the United Arab Emirates, will bring together experts in neurology, rehabilitation, biomedical engineering, and patient safety to address a significant global health challenge

Video: Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins and the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C., today announced a new institute for stroke research and clinical care funded by a $50 million gift from the UAE.

The Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute will enable top clinician-scientists at Johns Hopkins to build on their pioneering work in neurology and neurosurgery, leveraging advances in biomedical engineering, artificial intelligence, and precision medicine to better diagnose, treat, and restore function to stroke patients.

About one-third of people who have strokes die each year, accounting for 5.5 million people worldwide. Of the survivors, two-thirds leave the hospital with a disability.

The gift, believed to be the largest ever for a stroke-specific initiative, was announced this afternoon at an event in New York City, where speakers included Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels; Paul Rothman, dean of JHU's medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine; philanthropist, Johns Hopkins alumnus, and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; and Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the U.S.

"We are grateful for the UAE's gift, which enables us to leverage our considerable strengths in neurology, physical medicine, and rehabilitation—in combination with our expertise in biomedical engineering and patient safety—to develop new tools for stroke diagnosis, treatment, and recovery," Rothman says. "These efforts will improve the health of millions of people in Baltimore, the UAE, and around the world."

The new institute, with locations in Baltimore and Abu Dhabi, builds upon Johns Hopkins' leadership in the treatment of stroke and other neurological conditions. It will house two centers of excellence around which new research and patient care efforts will be designed:

  • The center of excellence in stroke detection and diagnosis will focus on both analyzing the genetic underpinnings of stroke and developing new interventions that might include digital neurological exams or automated bedside diagnosis, or using imaging in new ways to better understand stroke.

  • The center of excellence in stroke treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation will focus on developing new approaches to get blood vessels to regrow, delivering drugs and medications past the blood-brain barrier, and stimulating the brain to coax it to relearn movement post-stroke.

About one-third of people who have strokes die each year, accounting for 5.5 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Of the survivors, two-thirds leave the hospital with a disability, the U.K. Stroke Association reports.

Michael Bloomberg and Ron Daniels shake hands

Image caption: JHU President Ronald J. Daniels introduces Michael R. Bloomberg at the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute launch event in New York.

Image credit: Pearcey Proper

"This new institute will not only generate better outcomes for stroke patients in the UAE and the U.S. but will also strengthen opportunities for collaboration between UAE and U.S. scientists and researchers," Otaiba says. "We are grateful to Johns Hopkins for their continued leadership in patient-centered medicine and are proud of our longstanding partnership."

The Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute will be directed by Justin McArthur, professor and director of neurology at Johns Hopkins.

"Standard clinical approaches to stroke do not leverage new knowledge about brain repair, neural plasticity, or learning, and treatment options for stroke patients are extremely limited," McArthur says. "But with this support from the UAE, we will be able to really bring stroke research and patient care to a new level."

Added Pablo Celnik, an expert in brain injury rehabilitation who directs the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: "We are particularly excited to innovate how we care for patients with stroke, initiating recovery and novel rehabilitation strategies from the very onset of the disease."

Johns Hopkins and the UAE have a longstanding partnership dating back several decades. Johns Hopkins has provided specialized care to thousands of Emiratis since the 1970s and has helped build and improve overall health care delivery in the UAE by assisting with management and oversight of three of the UAE's major hospitals: Tawam, Al Rahba, and Corniche. In 2012, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the UAE dedicated the Sheikh Zayed Tower, a state-of-the-art center for adult care at Johns Hopkins made possible through a gift from His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE.