Students Share Findings from the Frontiers of Biomedical Research

Published October 15th, 2009 - 11:59 GMT

Members of Qatar’s research and medical community recently gathered at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar to learn more about research conducted by the college’s pre-medical and medical students.  The sixth annual Medical Student Research Forum not only highlighted the latest findings, but also gave 25 WCMC-Q students a chance to participate in a vital part of the research process: explaining findings with the larger scientific community.

Presentations highlighted work done by students chosen for their exceptional performance to participate in the college’s annual Summer Research Program. Through the program, they experienced an eight-week immersion into laboratories at WCMC-Q, Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and Cornell University in Ithaca. Their presentations—a third of which were presented through lectures and the remainder through scientific posters—represent the leading edge of investigation into conditions affecting countless people around the world.

“The research program advances critical thinking and problem solving skills in the students who participate,” said Khaled Machaca, PhD, associate dean for research at WCMC-Q. “The work they do every day in the lab highlights basic science that is fundamental to the field of medicine and this is why the experience is essential, he continued.”

Guests heard student lectures about research involving microbiology, genetics, stem cells, with study directed at ovarian cancer, H1N1, defects in nerve tissue, reproductive cell stages and preeclampsia—a condition where high blood pressure develops during pregnancy—among other conditions.

“Students at this forum have worked on a wide range of the studies with some of the most advanced research teams and methods available in the world today,” said Dr. Javaid Sheikh, interim dean of WCMC-Q. “This experience, at such an early stage in their careers, ensures the students’ deeper understanding about the importance of research and ignites a passion in some to devote themselves to it in the future. This is all part of creating a biomedical research culture here in Qatar over the generations.”

After the lectures, the audience moved into the open hallways to browse through poster presentations of research and discuss findings with the students. Examples included the effects of the western diet; genetic expression that can predict cancer; biological markers that could signal Parkinson’s disease and genes related to prostate cancer among other lines of inquiry.

“I had the chance to work in a brand new field of cancer research that hasn’t even been published yet,” said Utsav Nandi, a second-year medical student, who worked with Vivek Mittal, principal investigator
at the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell University Medical Center, New York, to explore a genetic fragment that was recently discovered to play a role in cancer metastasis. “This experience—of learning new genetic research techniques and practicing them repeatedly to get results—was extremely valuable to me.”

“I’m proud of the results of the study I was working on,” said Fadwa Fares, a first-year medical student who worked on a project involving ovarian tumor cells’ resistance to heat therapy. Working in the WCMC-Q stem cell lab, under the guidance of Dr. Arash Rafii Tabrizi, head of stem cell research and assistant professor of genetic medicine, Fares helped discover a key factor that affects cancer cells response to therapy. “I hope that once they validate these results, we can apply them to ovarian cancer therapy and improve the technique.”


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