Spotlight | Ola Daher

Spotlight | Ola Daher

Launch of the second cycle of the Rapid Response Call

After a successful inaugural cycle of the Rapid Response Call, launched by the Qatar National Research Fund last year to help institutions and policymakers in Qatar respond effectively to sudden and emergent situations like the COVID-19, we are pleased to announce the launch of the second cycle, titled, “Covid-19: Lessons Learned & Road to Recovery.

To learn more about this call, we sit down with Ola A. Daher, who joined QNRF in 2019 and is currently working as a Pre-Award Program Officer. She studied information systems at the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar and recently graduated with a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Aberdeen. Before joining QNRF, Ola worked at the Qatar National Bank for five years. Let’s learn from her about the application process for the RRC2 and what are the focus areas for this cycle.

  1. Can you outline the main motivation and objectives behind launching the Rapid Response Call?

Last year, the whole world was faced with a complex range of challenges posed by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a difficult and uncertain time- while we all were still grappling with the reality of a global crisis, we did not have a comprehensive understanding of the disease while it brought our daily life as we knew it to a standstill. It was imperative that we work towards strengthening our institutions dealing with the far-reaching impact of this pandemic, as public health was at high risk and our economic and development activities were severely affected.

To help our researchers, scientists, and innovators, we launched the Rapid Response (RRC) call last year – a special call designed to study sudden and significant situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and help Qatari society and its institutions mitigate their impact. Building on the success of the first cycle of the Rapid Response Call (RRC), we are launching its second cycle which focuses on the lessons learned and the recovery process ahead to respond to the continued challenges posed by the pandemic and to support a sustained recovery model in Qatar.

  1. Can you share the outcome of RRC1 help Qatar in its response to COVID-19?

Staying true to our mission of servicing the national needs of Qatar and upholding the health and safety of its residents, QNRF developed and launched RRC1, a unique research program, from scratch in record time and accelerated the evaluation and funding phases to ensure that the proposed outcomes of awarded projects are met as soon as possible.

Under the inaugural cycle of RRC, we received 230 proposals from researchers working in different disciplines, and after a thorough competitive scientific and technical review process, 20 research proposals were selected for funding. The awarded projects addressed a diverse range of topics with a COVID-19 focus. Our funded researchers developed an effective quarantine solution, built an alternative remote learning platform for autistic children, helped COVID-19 patients understand their X-rays better, and addressed the problem of cross-contamination by inventing self-sanitizing dustbins and gloves, and an innovative fingerprint scanner disinfecting technology, among other success stories. You can learn more about these projects on our website and previous editions of Research Matters.

  1. Building on the success of the RRC1, what are the areas QNRF is inviting interested applicants to address in RRC2?

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been constantly keeping an eye on its impact and learning from the experience and the lessons learned by international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization as well as governments, healthcare providers, and the research community in dealing with this pandemic. Based on the lessons learned, QNRF is launching RRC2 to enable rapid research, development, and innovative solutions by inviting interested applicants to address the continuous challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Qatar by focusing on the following main areas and topics:

  1. Economic Recovery Post-pandemic
  2. Education in Times of Crises
  3. Epidemiology and Health-related issues
  4. Social Cohesion and Community Resilience
  1. Are there any changes in the application process and the eligibility our researchers should know about?

The application process this year is a bit different from the first call and there will be a RO vetting process. For the LPI eligibility, the applicant must be affiliated with an approved submitting institution inside Qatar and is eligible to apply for only one RRC proposal in this cycle. Moreover, the LPI must hold a research-oriented doctorate or any of the approved terminal degrees as defined under the approved list of terminal degrees on our website.

  1. How can interested applicants learn more about the call and its requirement?

We invite all interested applicants to learn more about RRC2 and the application procedure and requirements by visiting our website, then select the Funding tab, and then RRC Covid-19: Lessons Learned & Road to Recovery.   

Moreover, we are holding a dedicated online information session for RRC2 where you can gain an in-depth knowledge of the program and have your questions answered by QNRF experts. The application cycle opens on 1st July 2021. We look forward to receiving your applications and help you channel your research interests and skills into helping Qatar and its citizens and residents.


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