The research efforts of Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) over the past years were highlighted as the college held its 10th Research Retreat.

The annual event is an opportunity for scientists in Qatar to spend a day hearing about the work of their colleagues and about the cutting-edge studies that are conducted each year.

The Research Retreat was officially opened by WCM-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh, followed by an overview of the major milestones WCM-Q has reached on the research front, presented by Dr Khaled Machaca, Senior Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Commercialization.

According to Dr Sheikh, Qatar would soon be embarking on a major drive forward in research, development and innovation (RDI).

There is going to be a road map of major elements in terms of RDI strategy within Qatar. There will be foundational research – of which I’m very proud to say that Weill Cornell has really led the charge. There will be a spotlight on innovation, and RDI talent in the country will be enhanced. There is also going to be increased emphasis on both risk capital and venture funding, and ultimately there will be focus on RDI governance.

He added that Dr Machaca and his team are already providing foundational research, producing RDI talent and accessing innovation enterprise, and they are indeed leading the charge in biomedical research.

WCM-Q Research Retreat 2Dr Machaca, meanwhile, spoke of the Research Division’s many achievements since the launch of the biomedical research programme just ten years ago. These achievements include 1,182 academic publications, many in high-impact journals and which have been cited 39,375 times. He also spoke of the 37 Qatari nationals who have been trained in biomedical research and have bolstered local research capacity – five are employed by WCM-Q and 30 are working for organisations in the biomedical sector around Qatar.

Dr Sheikh and Dr Machaca also acknowledged the invaluable support from Qatar Foundation and Qatar National Research Fund over the last decade and their commitment to extending human scientific knowledge.

WCM-Q recently instituted the Mariam Astrolabi Award for Biomedical Research Advancement, an award for institutions and/or individuals who have had an indelible impact on advancing the biomedical research enterprise in Qatar, in support of WCMQ efforts and mission. This year’s awardee was Dr Asma Al Thani, Founding Dean of the College of Health Sciences at Qatar University and the Founding Director of Qatar University’s Biomedical Research Center (BRC).

Mariam Astrolabi was a 10th century Arab Muslim scientist who made important contributions to the development of astrolabes, which were essential navigation instruments in the day. Dr Asma Al Thani was recognised this year for her heroic contributions to the establishment of the Qatar Genome Project and the Qatar BioBank. Both of these institutions have greatly benefited biomedical research and personalised medicine efforts in Qatar including researchers at WCM-Q. The award further recognises Dr Al Thani’s leading role in the establishment of BRC at Qatar University.

Keynote speaker Dr Gordon Lauc, Founder of Genos – a biotech company that is currently a global leader in high-throughput glycomics – spoke about the importance of glycans in human health and their involvement in the future of personalised medicine.

WCM-Q Research Retreat

The retreat this year featured presentations from young and established researchers at WCM-Q who have built a significant portion of their career in Qatar with considerable success. This asserts the contribution to scientific capacity-building nationally and the ability of scientists to develop successful careers in Qatar. This was followed by the poster session that featured close to 100 posters from students and scientists at WCM-Q. The session was highly engaging with significant discussions. The posters were judged by scientists representing various institutions in Qatar.

The winners of the poster presentations this year are:

Students Category 1 (Short Term)

  • Zain Burney
  • Amal Abdelatif
  • Mohamed Hussine

Students Category 2 (Long Term)

  • Sabiha Khan
  • Huda Alalami
  • Fatima Al Khawaja        

Research Specialists Category 2

  • Ayat Hammad
  • Muneera Vakayll
  • Nayra Al Thani
  • Manale Harfouche