QNRF hosts 3rd International School on Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA)

Measuring the impact of research

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The third International School on Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA) hosted by QNRF, took place in Doha, from November 8th to 12th and brought together more than 80 delegates from 10 counties, to shape the understanding, planning, valorization and dissemination of research outcomes and the impact they have on a local and global scale.

DeSIGN: Guided Practice for Sign Language

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Children learn and practice their vocabulary through interaction with parents and friends as well as through formal instruction at school. However, for deaf children, sign language is the main method of communication. Despite the importance of strong vocabulary skills for understanding text, effective verbal communication and integration into society, the average deaf student graduates from American high schools with a fourth grade reading level. This can be partially attributed to the fact that 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who are rarely fluent in sign language.

Calcium channels determine how life begins, and ends

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Ongoing work at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) is investigating how intracellular calcium (Ca2+) signaling pathways are involved in the very beginning of life as they prepare the egg for fertilization and the initiation of embryogenesis. The National Priorities Research Program-funded work also has wider implications. Since all cells use Ca2+ signals, these studies could impact the treatment of various pathological conditions including infertility, hypertension, and cancer.
Cells in the human body need to be able to sense their environment in order to respond to cues to perform some function. Intercellular signaling, using hormones sent from one part of the body to another, allow, for example, the brain to tell your hand to pick up a pen as neurons in the brain fire action potentials to trigger the relevant muscle actions. For other cells, the message may be to divide or to die if infected by a virus.

Taking gas-to-liquid technology to the next level

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In the 1920s, two German scientists—Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch—developed revolutionary chemical reactions that could transform gas into liquid. These reactions proved particularly valuable to natural gas-based fuel processing. Since the Fischer-Tropsch days, engineers around the world have been working on ways to tweak these gas-to-liquid (GTL) reactions to produce more products, more efficiently and with less environmental impact. An international research team headquartered at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) is making remarkable progress along these lines.

Researchers discover a remarkably easy way to make filters at the nano scale

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From your average spaghetti strainer to the screen on your windows, filters are a part of our every-day life. In their simplest form, they keep debris out of air and water. Yet as filter technology advances, so does the level of precision around what we can keep out.
Today, it’s possible to create membranes that filter a range of substances on a nano (microscopic) scale, and a QNRF, NPRP grant-funded project has made significant progress in doing just that. A member of the team and advanced research fellow in experimental physics in the Biological and Soft Sciences Department at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Easan Sivaniah, explained:

Researchers build the case for wind and wave studies in Qatar

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For the first time, fine detail about the wind and wave conditions around the coast of Qatar has been recorded. By arranging the most sophisticated equipment available on the edge of a 500-meter pier extending into the Gulf, a research team at Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) has collected detailed readings of air and wave currents around the peninsula. Their findings highlight a dearth of information on coastal conditions that have the potential to offer vital insights into many sectors.
“The actual research started in trying to understand the relationship between the wind and waves,” said Dr. Reza Sadr, Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at TAMUQ. “Why do we need this? Because there are very poor models to track wind current and predict ocean waves, and this information affects, among other things, marine life, the offshore oil and gas industry and renewable energy initiatives.”
Around the world, the methods for measuring the patterns of wind and waves, also known as the atmospheric surface layer (ASL), are so far based on weather and wind models combined with analysis of the ocean dynamics. Dr. Sadr said that these models, however, need to be fortified with more sophisticated data and analysis for each region in the globe.

Converting Waste into a National Treasure

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In a matter of two decades, Doha’s skyline has gone from flat and tan to a jagged skyscraping forest of gleaming metal and concrete structures. Construction continues to boom across Qatar, yet it imports so many construction materials—also known as ‘aggregate’—that the projects are unusually expensive. A research team funded by QNRF and based in Qatar is on track to challenge the current supply practices and radically cut costs while maintaining quality and saving massive amounts of energy used to import heavy materials.
“What we are trying to do is convert waste into an asset and then inform the government here to give them an understanding of how this works,” said Dr. Khaled Hassan, General Manager of TRL Ltd., Qatar Science Technology Park, who is the Lead Principal Investigator (LPI) on a project to test the quality of re-processed waste material in new construction projects, including buildings, roads and other infrastructure.

Advancing the field of machine language translation to include Arabic

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Over the past few decades, the Internet has removed a huge barrier between people and massive amounts of information. Every day, more and more becomes available, to anyone, anywhere, anytime, with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. And yet just as this barrier roots itself in history, a new one reveals itself more than ever. Language.
It’s great to make information available. But what if it’s not in your language? Who will translate everything, and how could humans possibly keep up? Without the help of technology, they simply can’t. Yet, to be of real help, technology must cover the bases of the human mind related to languages. Researchers across the world are working in the field of Natural Language Processing - also known as NLP - to help computers learn languages and process them for translation, education and many other purposes.

Researchers making headway on decoding the Qatari genome

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Genetic research has evolved from mapping the entire human genome to deciphering areas along it that relate to a specific disease. The next phase involves research localized to specific parts of the world in order to discover patterns in heritage and genetic susceptibilities to disease. A group of such projects based on the local Qatari population has so far yielded results that shine light on the specific ancestral background of the local population and also points to areas of the Qatari genome that could potentially allow prediction and intervention. These projects are led by Dr. Ronald Crystal, Chairman of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.
“The basic goal involves trying to understand the structure of the genome of the Qataris and put that in context with the environment to see how we can use that information to help the population in terms of general health, understanding disease, developing appropriate therapies and so on,” he said.
Some of the first results Dr. Crystal’s team published resolved the broad genomic makeup of the Qatari population, which, as published, can be generally separated into three categories—referred to as Q1, Q2 and Q3. Q1 are largely Bedouins, Q2 are a Persian or South Asian mixture and Q3 are the African-derived Qataris. While these groups are not perfectly “pure” per se, they are distinct enough to categorize.

Advance in the genetics of hearing loss

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Dr Paolo Gasparini, a medical geneticist and Head of Medical Genetics Department, University of Trieste, Italy, working with a group of Italian researchers, all of whom have long standing experience on the genetics of hearing loss, recently made headway in genetics research thanks to QNRF funding.
In collaboration with a team of investigators from Hamad Medical Center, Qatar (HMC), the research team identified the mutated gene associated with hearing loss. They also found mutations of that gene and of other genes, all related to characters and disorders typical of the Qatari population. The development has significant relevance not only for patients in Qatar, but also for patients worldwide because this gene has never before been associated with the disease.

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QNRF hosts 3rd International School on Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA)

The third International School on Research Impact Assessment (ISRIA) hosted by QNRF, took place in Doha, from November 8th to 12th and brought together more than 80 delegates from 10 counties, to shape the understanding, planning, valorization and dissemination of research outcomes and the impact they have on a local and global scale.

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