Two students of Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) experienced research in world-class laboratories after completing summer-long overseas internships.

Nasser Al Kuwari and Khalifa Al Sulaiti, who both recently started their second year of the WCM-Q medical curriculum, applied to MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative diseases (MIND) at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, respectively. Both were accepted and worked alongside some of the world’s finest scientific minds.

WCM-Q Students Complete Overseas Internship in Tokyo and Boston
Nasser Al Kuwari

Nasser, who went to Harvard, worked with Dr Xiqun Chen in the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Prior to going, Nasser wrote that he planned to study potential neuroprotective therapies in genetic models of Parkinson’s Disease (PD).

As a student who is not only interested in neuroscience but also neurology as a possible future specialty, I found the MIND research internship at MGH an opportunity to explore both neuroscience and neurology with world-class researchers of Parkinson’s Disease. Dr Chen had great contributions to the understanding of Parkinson’s and developing effective treatments for it, specifically the association of PD with melanoma.’

Nasser was given the opportunity to be responsible for a part of the project for eight weeks under the supervision of a post-doctoral researcher, presenting him with a chance to get an insight into the challenges of research, both logistical and experimental.

Meanwhile, Khalifa applied to Dr Takao Shimizu and Dr Keisuke Yanagida to work on lipid signalling at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo. He hoped to develop a system that would mimic how the brain creates a thin layer of cells called the endothelium, before examining what happens to a certain chemical compound once incorporated (into the endothelium).

Khalifa said that despite the language barrier, Japan was an attractive overseas research destination because of the high standard of education and the cutting-edge research conducted there. He also felt he would be able to gain valuable work experience.

I was able to investigate and use all the advanced research methods that my institution had to offer for mimicking the brain endothelium model. Studying abroad, especially in Japan, is highly valued by employers as the experience develops important skills such as cultural awareness, adaptability, determination, and patience; attributes that are transferable to the workplace.’

Dr Nayef Mazloum, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at WCM-Q, and Assistant Dean for Student Research, said the experiences are invaluable in giving students with interest in biomedical research, the opportunity to work on real-life studies in world-class laboratories.

Nasser and Khalifa were also among several students awarded the Medical Student Research Award (MSRA) 2019. The MSRA is an opportunity offered by the Research Division at WCM-Q to provide funding for first-year medical students to do eight weeks of research in the summer at any location in the world. The programme has tremendous impact on the students, both at an academic level and in increasing their motivation.

The programme also encourages students to develop important professional qualities as they take up positions in the real world and contribute to discoveries in the biomedical field.

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