“Many people know Qatar for going – in 50 years – from a dependency on pearl diving to winning the bid to host the FIFA World Cup, but not many are aware of the massive investment in education, science and research that is taking place in this small country,” said Dr. Abelali Haoudi, Vice President for Research at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, to an audience of researchers and scientists at BioVision 2011 in Lyon.
He continued: “At Qatar Foundation we believe that research and education naturally go hand-in-hand. Our job as decision makers in research is to ensure the environment in which this takes place is enticing to innovation.”
BioVision, the 7th World Life Sciences Forum, is a three-day international biomedical research and innovation forum held every two years in Lyon, France, where top research scientists outline their views on forthcoming developments in life sciences disciplines, and where stakeholders and industry leaders discuss the impacts of these discoveries on society and the environment.
BioVision also invites promising PhD and postdoctoral students to attend the forum with a fellowship program called BioVision.Nxt. At the BioVision.Nxt Creativity Seminar, the fellows presented ideas for innovative research projects related to the topics addressed by the BioVision conference to a jury for evaluation.
In addition to being on the jury panel, Dr. Haoudi was the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony of the BioVision.Nxt Creativity Seminar addressing over 100 promising young scientists from around the world about the research culture and opportunities at Qatar Foundation.
“Building a strong research culture is largely dependent on providing an opportunity for creativity and innovation through education,” he said. “At Qatar Foundation, we encourage young minds to consider careers in research and science in order to make a difference in developing a sustainable future for society. Through programs such as the Qatar National Research Fund as well as the Qatar Science Leadership Program, Qatar Foundation prepares young people by unlocking their potential, paving the way for this process.”
Qatar Foundation is committed to building a world-class scientific and research community in Qatar aimed at establishing the country as a regional center for research and innovation. Educating and encouraging the youth to pursue a career in research and science is a cornerstone of Qatar Foundation’s research initiative.
“Through our participation in large-scale international events such as BioVision as well as our own Annual Research Forum, we not only raise the profile of Qatar’s research capabilities to a wider audience, but we reach out to more young scientists looking to cultivate their talent,” Dr. Haoudi pointed out.
Also attending BioVision 2011 were two QSLP students who are researching cancer and stem cells at Paris 11. Hamda Al Thawadi is researching the relationship between ovarian cancer cells and stem cells, and Haleema Al Farsi is looking into the behavior of cancer stem cells to identify those responsible for the disease thus enabling direct drug therapy at those cells.
Speaking about their participation at BioVision, Al Thawadi said: "We came here because it's important for us to introduce what we do to other scientists. We also met other researchers from around the world who have ideas that we can use to advance our research." Al Thawadi and Al Farsi participated in the 6th Cancer Scientific Forum, which was a satellite event as part of BioVision.
In addition to participating in international conferences to highlight the research capabilities in Qatar, the Research Division also organizes events which recognize the research efforts of Qatar’s institutions and which bring together research experts in a collaborative setting with a focus on fostering
The inaugural Annual Research Forum, held in December 2010 in Doha, was one such event. The forum highlighted Qatar’s research efforts through a variety of projects, programs and initiatives within Education City and the local scientific community. Prominent researchers from university campuses and international research centers participated in plenary sessions, expert panels and poster sessions. The forum was an important step in recognizing the research culture in Qatar, and promoting Qatar Foundation’s youth development programs in research and science.
“To build a research culture, persistence and resilience is the key,” said Annual Research Forum participant Moncef Slaoui, Chairman, Research and Development, GlaxoSmithKline (UK). “It is important to build the foundations first – the foundation of talent. I think the forum was an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of scientific research, and a venue to make scientific careers an attractive area for the young Qatari population.”
Raymond Orbach, Director of the Energy Institute at University of Texas at Austin (USA) and former U.S. Department of Energy’s first Under Secretary for Science agreed. “Overall, one was left with a sense of excitement and achievement. It was clear that Qatar has a major commitment to research relevant to its national needs. I thought the entire Forum was of great value. It gave me an important insight into both the areas of scientific concern to Qatar, and to the research programs in place to achieve the national plan.”
“At Qatar Foundation we are committed to supporting the national research effort through offering youth development programs in research and science and organizing events which highlight our achievements in this area. On the back of the success of the inaugural forum, the second Annual Research Forum is planned for the end of 2011,” announced Dr. Haoudi.