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Qatar University continues to excel in the area of research | Qatar University

Qatar University continues to excel in the area of research

Driving Discovery at QU

Qatar University boasts a successful year full of achievements and garners international attention

Qatar University (QU) proves itself as a key player in the international sphere of health and research and has caught the attention of revered publications regarding these fields. Recently, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal “Nature,” which publishes fine peer-reviewed research that drives ground-breaking discovery has written two pieces on the University. The journal also published an article written by a QU Professor in the nutrition field.
Furthermore, researchers from QU have made a leap forward in developing engineered living heart valves that can work like natural heart valves and grow bigger after implantation in the human heart. This particular breakthrough was done alongside researchers from Imperial College London, Biostage, Inc. (USA), and the American University of Beirut (Lebanon).
Such cutting-edge achievements prove as a testament to QU’s commitment in prioritizing research and assisting Qatar in its quest to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels. “Nature” the internationally esteemed journal, highlighted these efforts in a report, which focused on the State of Qatar’s vision and QU’s significant role in seeing this vision through.
Featured in the report, is Director of Research Planning and Development, Husam Younes, who tells the journal in the 10 years leading up to 2015, QU’s main goal was to lay the foundations for research. The success of this phase is evident, he says, such as in the growing number of faculty at the university, the increased number of publications, the large number of collaborating institutions and the millions of dollars in research grants the university has received.
Younes tells “Nature” that the University is now focused on a second phase, which is to make an impact using the tools that were given. He explains, “All projects conducted in Qatar now need to fulfill certain criteria: they need to tackle defined national needs and challenges, produce tangible impacts, focus on areas with commercial and technological potential, promote public-private partnerships, and adopt a more cross-cutting interdisciplinary approach.”
With an infrastructure in place, thanks much in part due to the state investing 2% of its annual income for education and research, QU has been celebrating success after success. The University has developed advantageous partnerships with big players in the industry, particularly in the field of oil and gas research. A partnership with ExxonMobil Research Qatar (EMRQ), for example, allowed researchers to identify scores of species not previously known to exist in the area, by way of a comprehensive ecosystem analysis.
Moreover, the University is being recognized in several prominent rankings. For example, “Times Higher Education” (THE) World University Ranking revealed QU as the most international university for the 2015-2016 year, indicating QU as a truly global university, one that attracts students and scholars from around the world and collaborates with others globally.
Qatar University’s Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Mariam Al-Maadeed, says the University’s research productivity has significantly increased recently. During the past six years, the University published almost 5,704 studies, garnering more than 25,575 citations.
QU is also keen on making their contributions count, being careful to insure the research is in line with Qatar’s overall strategy. QU Dean of the College of Health Sciences (CHS) Asma Al Thani says, “We’ve chosen our areas of research to complement, and not duplicate, what others are doing in Qatar.”
Another report, also in “Nature,” confirms the changing nature of Arctic plants as a result of global warming. Dr. Juha Alatalo, Associate Professor in the Biological Sciences Program at QU is part of an international team of nearly 130 biologists conducting this study.
The study was conducted following the observation that over the past three decades, taller plant species were slowly increasing throughout the entire Arctic tundra, which is notably the home of low-growing grass and dwarf shrubs. The researchers found that the area had also undergone one of the fastest rates of warming on the planet.
On the importance of this study, Dr. Mariam says, “The publication of this study in a world-class magazine such as “Nature” undoubtedly confirms the strength of the research and its impression on the scientific world.”
Recently, CHS honored the achievement of Dr. Zumin Shi, Associate Professor in the Human Nutrition Department for his published article in Nature Review Endocrinology titled “Epidemic T2DM, early development and epigenetics: implications of the Chinese Famine.”
Dr. Zumins research is a collaborative work with eminent researchers in Australia and China. The paper found that the epigenetic modifications resulting from malnutrition during the famine in China (1959–1961) might convey an intergenerational risk of T2DM that continues to fuel the T2DM epidemic in China. Initiating such research and publishing results is one of the human nutrition department’s crucial objectives, to foster the development and advanced insights in the nutritional sciences.
In addition, researchers at QU have made a leap forward in developing engineered living heart valves. The team generated the valve using a combination of nanotechnology, 3D printing and newly developed tissue engineering techniques. The “tissue engineering” technique is one of the latest advancements in the field of biomedical engineering and has recently been successfully applied to develop engineered human skins and bladders.
Dr. Asma Al Thani says the achievement is a “…clear indication of how our talented researchers at QU are leading cutting-edge research using the latest technologies to serve the humanity.”
Research is the cornerstone of QU’s mission and vision. It is conducted in and across the organization’s nine colleges and is buoyed by an increased research budget, a multi-million-dollar research complex, 14 research centers of excellence, and strategic collaborations and partnerships. It is further enhanced by over 400 collaborative projects in over 130 countries.
Research is also an integral part of the academic environment at QU and is bolstered by an ambitious five-year roadmap from 2014 to 2019, which addresses national priorities and lists four priority research areas in line with Qatar National Vision 2030: Energy, Environment and Resource Sustainability; Social Change and Identity; Population, Health and Wellness; and Information, Communication and Technologies (ICT).