Posted on April 17, 2019

Qatar University’s (QU) Biomedical Research Center (BRC) concluded yesterday a 5-day conference and workshop entitled “Current and Emerging Trends in Zebrafish Research,” which involved both theoretical lectures from renowned experts in the field as well as hands-on practical sessions to train interested researchers. The conference was organized in cooperation with Sedeer Medical, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and Al-Obeidly Trading Technology W.L.L.

The conference boasted more than 100 attendees including speakers from outside Qatar such Turkey, Japan, USA, UK, Germany, Singapore and Spain, in addition to speakers from various sectors in Qatar.

The aim of the program held in QU was to focus on the utilization of the zebrafish model in a variety of research investigations, and to introduce this relatively new animal model to students, academicians, researchers and health care practitioners in the nation. The workshop also provided a platform for establishing new collaborations. QU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Prof. Mariam Al-Maadeed spoke at the conference saying, “Zebrafish is a small, beautiful and unique creature, which has a number of exceptional attributes, making it a vital topic in medical scientific research. The genes of the zebrafish are similar to human genes and have a unique ability to regenerate damaged cells and tissues.”

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Indeed, zebrafish host a slew of advantages, that make it an important scientific tool. Such advantages include low experimental cost, transparent embryos, external development and a high fecundity making them suitable for large-scale genetic screening. Being a vertebrate model, zebrafish have been shown to exhibit physiological responses that are similar to humans such as after exposure to medicinal drugs including hormones, cancer drugs and environment pollutants including pesticides and heavy metals. Prof. Mariam Al-Maadeed adds, “Research on zebrafish has provided us with impressive results, and has opened an advanced route in biomedical sciences, which led researchers to a rare opportunity to diagnose and treat many human diseases, foremost among them cardiovascular and other diseases. Heart disease is still a serious threat to human life everywhere, and it is a major cause of death of millions in the world, including the Gulf and Qatar.”

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In 2014 QU set up a zebrafish facility at the BRC, which is currently managed by Dr Huseyin Cagatay Yalcin, Dr Fatiha M. Benslimane and Dr Gheyath Nasrallah, who have been working in the zebrafish facility since its establishment. They run what is considered a multidisciplinary service lab that supports researchers from inside and outside QU to conduct their experimental works. In this laboratory they have exploited the zebrafish embryo model to investigate toxicity of some novel chemical compounds and nanoparticles that potentially have bioapplications.