Two Saudi women scientists feted at ‘Women in Science’ Middle East Fellowship 2017


DUBAI — Six women can lead the cause of science in the Middle East while also encouraging other young people to follow their footsteps. This is the message that was conveyed at the ceremony of L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship 2017 on Nov. 13 at Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel, held in partnership with Zayed University, where innovative female researchers were each awarded €20,000 for the Postdoc Researchers category and €8,000 for the PHD Students category, in recognition of their contribution to science and their outstanding research work.

Among the six winners, Saudi Arabia was represented by Dr. Amal Qattan, for her research in the development of non-invasive liquid biopsy clinical assays for monitoring breast cancer, and the role that circulating microRNAs play as early detection biomarkers for breast cancer, and by Ms. Maram Mansoor Abadi for her research on Super resolution visualization of polymer motion at molecular level.

Now in its 4th year, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship is based on the belief that the world needs science, and science needs women, because women in science have the power to change the world” The Awards laud the contribution of eminent female scientists, researchers and contributors in the Middle East to the scientific development in the region.

L’Oréal’s and Zayed University’s core values are founded on the idea of empowering women, of nurturing their inner strength and encouraging their full potential. The L’Oréal Foundation’s For Women In Science Program, which was launched in cooperation with Zayed University, is designed to shatter the stereotypes that hinder the aspirations of a younger generation of females. It champions the role of female scientists and shines a spotlight on their discoveries to bridge the gender gap and plough an equal playing field.

At the awards event, Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, President of Zayed University congratulated the winners. She said: “I commend, support, and believe in the work being done by the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO through the ‘For Women In Science’ Program. It ensures that great scientific ideas don’t fall prey to gender barriers. It also involves women in the Middle East- who are over 50% percent of the population – in meaningful scientific work to benefit the whole society. And as an added benefit, these women then go on to inspire a brand-new generation of minds while simultaneously carving out rewarding careers.”

Speaking at the awards event, Dr. Mouin Hamzé, President of the Jury & Secretary General of the National Council for Scientific Research – Lebanon (CNRS-L), said: “It has been an honor for me to chair the Jury Committee for the fourth year running I’m delighted to say that the competition gets more intense, the submissions more thought out, and the quality of research presented more robust with every passing year. This year, not only have the number of applicants been very high but the significance of their accomplishments has been exceptional. The winners – who range from across the GCC- have brought spectacular contributions to the table, and have generated ideas and research with the potential to benefit human life worldwide.”

Balanced male-female research teams have a demonstrably made a high impact on the quality of insight and application generated. Diversity enables a multitude of viewpoints to be considered, and introduces varying perspectives that enrich and strengthen findings.

Thierry Houssin, Managing Director at L’Oréal Middle East, said: “L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Middle East Fellowship program continues to build on our firm commitment to women everywhere. We believe in gender diversity, and want to ensure that great ideas are heard. Women are one half of humanity, and to not have their input in global discourse weakens human progress as a species. In fact, we actively work towards ensuring that all women’s voices are heard and acknowledged. We genuinely believe that women in science – and indeed anywhere else – have the power to change the world. Our initiative provides them the amplification to have their valued voices listened to and lauded.”

The L’Oréal Foundation helps women fight prejudice, tear down gender barriers, and conquer new areas in science. It celebrates outstanding women in science as they change the world through their discoveries. Nearly 2,700 women in over 115 countries have been the recipients of Fellowship. With UNESCO, the Foundation has honored almost 100 award laureates for their research achievements- two of whom have gone on to win a Nobel Prize.

The 2017 Fellows Are:

Postdoc Researchers Category:

• Dr. Fatema Alrashed, (Kuwait), Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait: For her research on the effect of lipid metabolites in monocytic lipotoxicity and inflammatory responses.

• Dr. Amal Qattan, (KSA), King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center and George Washington University, US: For her research in the development of non-invasive liquid biopsy clinical assays for monitoring breast cancer, and the role that circulating microRNAs play as early detection biomarkers for breast cancer.

• Dr. Fatma Taher, (UAE), Zayed University: For her research into a non-invasive CAD system for early detection of lung cancer.

• Dr. Saba Alheialy, (UAE), Mohammed Bin Rashid Univ. of Medicine & Health Sc.: For her insights on steroid hyporesponsiveness in obese asthmatics, and in particular the role of Th17 cells and GR-beta.

PhD Students Category:

• Ms. Fedah Emaed Mohamed, (UAE), United Arab Emirates University: For her insight into establishing the cellular mechanisms of missense mutations underlying GM1-gangliosidosis, and evaluating several pharmaceutical chaperones and proteostasis regulators as novel therapeutics.

• Ms. Maram Mansoor Abadi, (KSA), King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), Super resolution visualization of polymer motion at molecular level. — SG