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, organized 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.
The students are part of Qatar Foundation's Qatar Science Leadership Program (QSLP), and their participation in the conference is considered an important part of their training. With more than 400 registered attendees, including key 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.
Qatari QSLP trainee and PhD student from Paris XI University, Dr. Hamda Al Thawadi, 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. 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," said Dr. Al Thawadi.
Dr. Halema Alfarsi, another student on QSLP's scientific track, is also 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. 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," commented Dr. Alfarsi.
The recently published 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 journal Nature.
"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," said Al-Siddiqi. "I am excited about the potential of creating cell-based therapies to treat and prevent chronic diseases in Qatar for future generations."
The three student presenters will be joined at the conference by their fellow QSLP members, Sarah Ali Abdulla and Abeer Al Shammari. Abdulla, who is pursuing her PhD in stem cell science and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, will serve as Master of Ceremonies over the conference's four days.
"The Qatar conference on stem cells supports our students' scientific development by including them in the country's stem cell research community and connecting them with leading figures in the field. Moving forward, we hope it will inspire young people in Qatar and the region to pursue studies in stem cell science," said Qatar Foundation's Head of Research Training and Development, Dr. Ayman Bassil.
The Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy opens on February 27, 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre. More information about the conference, organizers and supporters can be found by visiting: www.qf-research-division.org/stemcell2012