In the Media

Meena Antony
/ Categories: In the Media

Researchers pool findings at Doha meet

After the historic unveiling of the Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) on Sunday, the three-day concurrent Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum (ARF) and the Arab Expatriate Scientists Network Symposium drew to a close yesterday, with the sessions and workshops gathering together the country’s top research institutes in a bid to showcase initiatives that will help achieve the nation long-term goal of sustained scientific innovation. A selection of QF representatives from the Sidra Medical and Research Center, the Qatar National Research Fund and Qatar Science and Technology Park gave presentations, alongside officials from the Hamad Medical Corporation and Qatar University. The discussions offered detailed accounts of recent developments in the fields of science, research and medicine, while announcing initiatives planned for the coming year that will assist in implementing the QNRS. “A key factor to keep in mind for adopting the QNRS is to sync our own aims as the national funding agency with the strategy future implementation plan. At QNRF, we have already begun to embrace its four thematic research pillars and are working to incorporate them into our future funded research projects,” said QNRF executive director Dr Abdul Sattar al-Taie. And the first step we have taken to critically develop these core areas is aligning the goals of our flagship funding program, the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), with the strategy long-term objectives starting with its 6th cycle, launched on October 7. The session was followed by a series of workshops and panel discussions from leading international scientists and scholars, who explored issues related to the four core pillars of the QNRS. One meeting delved into metabolic disease and diabetes, and featured a variety of representatives from QF centres devoted to biomedical and cardiovascular research. A subject of particular relevance to this year forum was dyslipidemia, caused by abnormal levels of cholesterol or fat in the bloodstream, as the winning abstract for the ‘Best Student Health and Biomedical Research of the Year explored ways to treat this condition. A third-year medical student from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Maen Abou Ziki study focused on the unusually high occurrence of dyslipidemia in Qatar. No one knew the mutation was so prevalent. This is fresh data and the project needs a lot of follow-up, but at least we can now advise people on how to monitor their diet if they know they have this mutation, said Maen. This is something I really want to pursue and there is definitely a lot of potential on this project. It nice to see something that I built and know it will continue to advance. This is also a very good example of Qatar being a hub for research, because what we discovered here is actually applicable to other people who have the mutation worldwide. Another winner from this year forum, receiving the Best Energy and Environment Research Program of the Year award, expressed his team pride at being selected. Our research team didn't comprise only scientists. We got students involved to hone their skills and train them up for developing Qatar future in science. Even today, three of our graduates are working for Shell and one for Maersk Oil, said Elfatih E Elmalik, research associate at the Texas A&M University at Qatar, who is studying under Professor Nimir Elbashir team. Our team collaborative efforts, which worked to convert natural gas to liquid-based fuels, uncovered environmentally-friendly and cost efficient solutions that will support the nation recently unveiled research strategy and help build a more sustainable future. This year ARF provided a strategic implementation plan for stakeholders , bringing together the best researchers and scholars from around the world. Participants were able to brainstorm for new local collaborations and foster international partnerships in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) executive director Dr Rabi Mohtar said: The QNRS is an ambitious plan and we need partnerships and support from the Arab expatriate community to fulfil this. At QEERI, we have about 50 scientists, over half of whom are of Arab origin. We need global alliances to tackle the grand challenges the nation is now embarking upon. Held under the patronage of QF chairperson HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the ARF is an initiative rooted in Qatar strategy to foster a community of research excellence and world-class education. More information can be found online at www.qf-arf.org.
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