What makes the Samih Darwazah Institute a regional leader in pharmaceutical research?

An interview with the institute’s Acting Director Dr. Amin Thawabteh reveals equal focus on theory and praxis 

The Samih Darwazah Institute for Pharmaceutical Industries, inaugurated in 2015 on Birzeit University’s campus, is one of the region’s leading pharmaceutical research and development centers. 

The institute, established through a generous donation by Dr. Samih Darwazah, consists of state-of-the-art equipment that supports the Palestinian pharmaceutical industry and facilitates pharmaceutical, scientific research at Palestinian universities, targeting both professors and students. 

“We’re employing a two-pronged approach for our constituents,” said Dr. Amin Thawabteh, acting director of the institute. “We’re providing valuable testing and research and development services for the Palestinian pharmaceutical industry on a unique level not found anywhere else in the region. In addition, we’re training young chemists, biologists, and pharmacists on how to design pharmaceutical research.” 

Thawabteh highlighted the institute’s role in improving development and manufacturing at Palestinian pharmaceutical companies, noting that it houses a one-of-a-kind pharmaceutical production line that was designed with research and development in mind. 

“At the Samih Darwazah Institute for Pharmaceutical Industries, we operate drug analysis laboratories that, coupled with the pharmaceutical production line, allow us to carry out drug development, manufacturing, and testing,” commented Thawabteh, adding that the institute monitors and controls every aspect of the analysis and manufacturing processes to detect shortcomings and continually improve the processes from start to finish. 

Regarding contributions toward pharmaceutical research, Thawabteh noted that the institute has carried out collaborative projects with scientists and researchers from the government, academia, and industry to develop innovative methods that improve the safety of the Palestinian drug supply and lead to more selective, robust, and eco-friendly pharmaceutical processes. 

The institute, Thawabteh remarked, offers training and internship opportunities for students and workers in the pharmaceutical field, including in chromatographic and spectroscopic analysis, development, and validation processes; pharmaceutical analysis programs; and solid dosage-phase manufacturing technology programs. 

At the helm of the institute’s research and development as well as training efforts is a team of academics with master’s and doctorate degrees and at least 10 years of experience in fields related to pharmaceutical manufacturing and research and development obtained in pharmaceutical companies, said Thawabteh. He noted a combination of theory and practical methods is utilized. 

Recently, the institute and the Palestinian Ministry of Health agreed to form a partnership to hold workshops for Palestinian importers of pharmaceutical drugs with the aim of improving the quality of medicines in Palestine.
Thawabteh stressed that the main aim of the institute is to improve local pharmaceutical industries, control imported medicines, and support the Palestinian Ministry of Health in monitoring and testing, thereby serving the local pharmaceutical industry and strengthening the Palestinian economy. 

Looking ahead, Thawabteh said that the institute aspires to play a major role in the registration of medicines in Palestine and that the institute’s tests are cited as a reference in their approval. He added that the institute aims to intensify its networking efforts with local, regional, and international partners; focus on new, creative ideas for the development and revitalization of the Palestinian pharmaceutical industry; and raise funds for scientific research in pharmaceutical fields.