Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stem cell researchers from Qatar

by Salman Hameed

Stem cell research shows up Presidential politics here in the US. But it has been going on in Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, etc. Even embryonic stem cell research - the bone of contention in the US - is progressing without controversy in some of these Muslim countries. In case, you are interested, you can check out the official Malaysian Guidelines for Stem Cells Research and Therapy (pdf) and it also has a section on ethnics.

Now here is a news item about four women stem cell researchers from Qatar (tip from Don Everhart):
One of the first steps taken by the collaborations was to form the International Programme on Stem Cell Science and Policy, charged with examining the ethical and religious issues involved in stem-cell science, relevant to Arab culture, and engaging with local communities. Five years on, the plan is bearing fruit. 
Hamda Al-Thawadi, Halema Al-Farsi, Heba Al-Siddiqi and Sarah Abdullah joined the Qatar Science Leadership Program (QSLP), a QF initiative that aims to groom Qataris to take leading roles in Qatari science and one day steer its ambitious national programme of research. 
The QSLP sends students to train at some of the best universities in the world. And 2011 saw Al-Thwadi and Al-Farsi go to one of France's largest universities, University Paris-Sud 11, Al-Siddiqi go to Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Massachusetts and Abdullah go to the University of Cambridge in the UK. 
At the Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy held this past week in Doha, Al-Thawadi, Al-Farsi and Al-Siddiqi presented their research on ovarian cancer and obesity-related diseases. Al-Thawadi practiced medicine for two years before applying for the QSLP. "In the past there was only one path for a medical doctor, treating patients. But when QF started this programme, they created a new path for doctors or graduates interested in science," she says. "This is a perfect chance for Qatar to create home-grown researchers."
And Al-Siddiqi is a co-author on a paper published in Nature Cell Biology just this past month:
The first research paper Al-Siddiqi's co-authored was published in Nature Cell Biology in February 2012. "It felt amazing, especially after all the hours of hard work," she says.
Al-Thawadi and Al-Farsi decided to work on ovarian cancer as it is highly prevalent in the Middle East. Al-Thawadi incubated cancer cells in culture with Protein C, a coagulation factor, to test its effect on thrombosis of ovarian cancer cells, which led to a significant increase in metastasis. "This gives us a clue to outline preventative measures for thrombosis in ovarian cancer patients," she explains.
This is actually pretty neat! Read the full article at Nature Middle East.


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