Omani researcher wins L’Oréal-Unesco science award

Muscat – An Omani researcher is among the five winners of the prestigious L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents 2022 programme for her study investigating underlying causes of Type 1 diabetes.

Recognising the remarkable scientific discoveries of women in the Arab world, and underscoring their role in solving today’s challenges as well as inspiring the future generation of girls, the programme aims to promote the participation of young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Yemen and the GCC countries.

Dr Maha al Riyami, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, was chosen for her research investigating underlying causes of Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases that could lead to their prevention.

Following a PhD in experimental medicine from McGill University, Canada, Maha worked in the supervision of eminent scientists and research teams. “All these experiences enriched and enhanced my passion for science and research,” she told Muscat Daily.

Elaborating on her research and how it is going to help fight Type 1 diabetes, Maha said that understanding the pathogenic mechanism of any disease is highly important for its future prediction and prevention. “Type 1 diabetes and autoimmunity, although intensively studied, the underlying mechanisms of these are still not fully understood. In my project, we are exploring the potential contribution of somatic mutations to the pathogenicity of Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases by a similar mechanism. This could offer novel avenues for research in the field of autoimmunity and future individualised treatment,” Maha said.

Thanking L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science for the recognition, Maha said, “It’s a great honour that such a global institution has recognised my work. Also, it’s a great motivation to keep working and moving forward in my research career.”

She added that the recognition has given her an international platform to showcase her work and research that will enable her to establish global and regional collaborations. “I’d like to thank Sultan Qaboos University, which gave me the opportunity and the scholarships to continue my higher education in the world’s leading universities. I also want to thank all my supervisors and colleagues at Sultan Qaboos University and McGill University, who mentored, supported, and believed in me over the years.”

Besides Maha, grants were awarded to post-doctorate researchers Dr Raefa Abou Khouzam from UAE and Dr Fatiha M Benslimane from Qatar, who received EUR20,000 each, and PhD students Hessa Ebrahim Ali al Falahi and Ayesha Abdulla al Khoori from UAE, who were awarded EUR8,000 each in their category.

Tags – Muscat Daily, Times of Oman, Omani researcher, L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents 2022, Type 1 diabetes, Sultan Qaboos University, McGill University, Dr Maha al Riyami, Assistant Professor

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