Students to present research at international stem cell conference

February 23, 2012

Three Qatari graduate students will present their research on the potential of stem cells in understanding and preventing ovarian cancer, obesity-related diseases and other serious illnesses affecting people in Qatar and the region at the Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy next week.

The conference, organised by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, will provide an international platform to discuss the latest discoveries in stem cell research and collaborate on new therapeutic approaches for the use of stem cells, within an acceptable ethics, cultural and religious framework, organisers said.

The students are part of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Science Leadership Programme (QSLP).

With more than 400 participants, including senior ethicists and scientists in stem cell research, the conference provides students invaluable opportunities for exchanging knowledge and building relationships with top figures and leading regional and international institutions in the field.

QSLP, an initiative by QF, aims to equip rising Qatari generations for leading roles in the country’s scientific and research endeavors, with stem cell research as a national priority.

Dr Hamda Al Thawadi, Qatari QSLP trainee and PhD student from Paris XI University, will present a poster about her research on ovarian cancer at the conference.

“This is an important area specifically for Qatar, as there is a high prevalence of thrombotic diseases which affect patients with cancer here,” Al Thawadi said. “My project will help in detecting a powerful tool for the assessment of thrombosis risk factors in patients with cancer as well as healthy individuals, which should help develop preventative measures.”

Dr Halema Alfarsi, another student on QSLP’s scientific track, is presenting her research on ovarian cancer at the conference. Her work explores the potential application of stem cells in making cells and tissues for medical therapies.

“Currently, donated tissues and organs are often used to replace those that are diseased or destroyed,” she said. “Stem cells offer a viable source of replacement cells to treat diseases and can potentially reduce the morbidity and mortality for those awaiting transplants for Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, severe burns, diabetes and arthritis. In Qatar we have many cases of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Stem cells offer hope for effective treatment or perhaps even reversal of the disease.”

Heba Al Siddiqi, another QSLP student, will present her research on preventing chronic obesity-related diseases through tissue engineering and organ regeneration.

This research was recently featured in the leading international scientific journalNature.

“Tackling obesity-related diseases such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes through developing stem cell technology is very important as these diseases are increasingly common in Qatar,” she said.

“I am excited about the potential of creating cell-based therapies to treat and prevent chronic diseases in Qatar for future generations.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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