The American University in Cairo graduate student Reem Al Olaby was chosen from among 25 young men and women from Egypt, Morocco and Palestine to attend the Novartis Biotechnology Leadership Camp in the United States. Al Olaby, along with her team consisting of six members from different cultures and backgrounds, developed a strategic plan to prevent Hepatitis C and B from spreading. “We decided to work on the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) because Egypt has the highest prevalence of HCV worldwide (12 percent), making it a national problem that needs to be tackled deeply,” said Al Olaby. The team created a group - The Egyptian Association for Combating Hepatitis C Infection - based on three cornerstones. The first was an awareness campaign that aims at increasing awareness of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its causes, methods of transmission and treatment. The second cornerstone focused on the activation of infection control units to help reduce the rate of HCV infection in specific and nosocomial infections; and the third cornerstone involved creating a central regulator center for blood banks to make sure that all blood intended for transfusion is 100 percent infection free, and to monitor the processes of blood screening and see if it is efficient enough or needs improvement.
The biotechnology camp is a two-day seminar designed for entrepreneurial, postgraduate students in science or economics who are interested in pursuing a career in biotechnology. It has been held in Switzerland, Japan, China and Taiwan over the past four years. Al Olaby, who is now working on her masters’ degree in biotechnology at AUC and who earned her bachelor of science degree in pharmacy from Ain Shams University, was chosen along with Maha Omar, a graduate student at the Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, for their academic excellence, professional focus and presentation skills.
Al Olaby heard about the competition from her professor Hassan Azzazy, chair of the chemistry department at AUC, who is also her supervisor for her thesis on designing a vaccine against HCV using a new technique that was only used against cancer and it will be used for the first time against HCV.
“The liberal style of education at AUC helped me become more creative and to think outside the box, in addition to having a good quality of knowledge in my field of study which is biotechnology,” says Al Olaby. “I feel really blessed and honored to have the chance to represent Egypt, AUC and Novartis Egypt in the International BioCamp and I will work hard to represent them perfectly by God's will.” Al Olaby is a fellow in the Nadhmi Auchi Fellowship for Young Arab Leaders and is currently working on creating a campaign that aims at increasing awareness against HCV which will start in October 2009.
The American University in Cairo (AUC) was founded 90 years ago and is major contributor to the social, political and cultural life of the Arab Region. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions, and study abroad programs. An independent, nonprofit, apolitical, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.