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Second place winners at National Science Promotion Program (NSPP) - 2021 share their experience | Qatar University

Second place winners at National Science Promotion Program (NSPP) - 2021 share their experience

2022-08-01 00:00:00.0
صورة جماعية للدكتور هشام مع الطلبة الفائزين بالمركز الثاني

The second place winner at National Science Promotion Program (NSPP) - 2021 express and share their experience. The second place winning project was “The Effect of the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor Inhibition on the CTLA-4 Immune System in Colon Cancer Stem Cells” by Dr. Hesham M. Korashy, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at College of Pharmacy QU.

The two high school students who got the opportunity to work on the project were Maha Mohammed Al-Meraghi and Hajar Abdulla Al-Jumaily from Al-Arqam Academy for Girls.

The aim of the "National Science Promotion Program" (NSPP) is to promote research culture and increase the research capacity by endorsing tools such as "Learning by Doing" and "Hands-On experience." By using such tools in the high school education system, students will be more encouraged to do research and benefit Qatar. Through this process, students will get an opportunity to experience research under faculty mentors' supervision from the university. Simultaneously, the NSPP grant will provide training to prepare the students to join the university.

Discussing about the topic of the research, Dr. Hesham said: “The research aims to investigate the novel molecular mechanism of the growth and proliferation of cancer stem cells in human colon cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in Qatar. Targeting this type of cancer is one of the priorities of Qatar’s national vision 2030. The mechanism is trying to inhibit a particular cellular pathway known as Aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which is an enzyme inside the body known to play a role in activating carcinogens and activating the probation and the growth of the cancer stem cells.”

“Our study hypotheses that by inhibiting this AhR pathway we will inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer stem cells by targeting an immune checkpoint such as CTLA-4. Hopefully, by the end of this project, we will be able to open the gate to a novel anti-cancer medication that helps in the treatment of this cancer,” he added.

Speaking with the two students to ask about their experience, they said, “It is the first time for us to experience working in labs of this level. We have labs at school, and we do experiments and research but mostly related to our study or googling and looking for information. We are familiar with the research but not real-time experiments. This was once in a lifetime opportunity for us during which we enjoyed and learnt a lot.”

While sharing their opinion on National Science Promotion Program (NSPP), the students said, “This is a great program. This is a program of great importance for students because we gained a lot of experience, the unique experience that we won't get from any other place except this scientific program. This type of research program is a wonderful option, especially for students who desire to pursue scientific fields of study. They might have some research experience that will help them become qualified and ready for college. We benefited from the expertise and experience we earned in the field of research. I want to go into engineering, but I learnt a lot from this research about how to present and execute it. I didn't feel comfortable presenting research to an audience before this endeavor. I now possess the confidence and presenting abilities necessary to carry it through.”

On this regard Dr. Hesham said, “That is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to be prepared for the university. I'm sure my students have learned a lot, as I mentioned in terms of the very basic principles of research, how to think and how to solve the problem because you know, research is a problem and then so it's not of matter of generating the data rather than understanding and tackling the problem of the research. I think this was a very nice opportunity for them to learn. They are ready for joining the university because you know, the university usually you have a research project from time to time.”

He also added, “I also liked a lot the idea of having an undergraduate work with high school students and RA. This created a link between the high school students and the undergraduates that I have not seen in other programs.”
Qatar University National Science Promotion Program (NSPP) is a national bridging program to build the national capacity and is focused on the smooth transition of high school students to the University by engaging them in excelling towards learning and scientific research. It is a promising initiation from Qatar University aligning to the goals set under the pillar 'Human Development' supporting the Qatar National Vision 2030 and promoting youth empowerment through research and innovation programs.