Posted on March 18, 2015

Doha College’s second annual Medical Review School Conference occurred last weekend with around 90 students from various schools in Doha, medical experts from Sidra Research & Medical Center, Hamad Medical Corporation and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) as well as our VIP representative from the Supreme Council of Health, Dr. Aisha Al-Aali.

 The conference, developed by Doha College in partnership with Sidra Research & Medical Center, Hamad Medical Corporation and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), allows students interested in Biology and Medicine to present their research and findings on key topical areas in today’s medicine, showcasing their knowledge. All students competed for cash prizes and the 1st place winner wins the chance to join WCMC-Q’s summer enrichment programme. 

Pre-determined topic areas allowed students to focus their research on a specific aspect of medicine. This year, these topics included: Diabetes, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Stem Cell Research & Gene Therapy and Diagnostic Tools and Bio-Mechanics. Six teams competed per topic and three teams were selected to enter the grand finale. These talented students had the honour of presenting their findings to three expert judges and around 350 guests in Doha College’s Auditorium, competing for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Schools competing in this year’s event included the hosts Doha College, Al Khor International School, Qatar International School, International School of London Qatar, Dukhan English School, Qatar Academy, Doha British School, Weill Cornell’s Qatar Aspiring Doctor Programme and Park House English School. Students discussed a vast array of complex medical initiatives including breakthrough treatment such as insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, converting cancerous tumour cells to normal cells, Tumour Paint which highlights cancerous cells under UV light and attempting to detect disease at their earliest stages through various innovative methods.

Students across Qatar encouraged 2 [].jpgIn third place came two girls from Park House, Suhanya Ferdinando and Huda Najjar, who discussed a rare disease called Choroideremia and the gene therapy and stem cell research that can produce a cure for this disease. In second place was also a Park House group who discussed prosthetic arms and the fascinating discoveries that will soon allow amputees to perform hundreds of arm and finger movements. Ali Abdelati, Moussa Zekak and Sara Akel professionally discussed the diagnostic tools and bio-mechanics behind prosthetic arms.

The winning team this year were three outstanding students from Doha College, Jessica Harris Robert Taylor and Lusizi Komakoma. They discussed the ground-breaking discovery of Dr. Jim Olsen’s tumour paint which allow surgeons to physically see where the tumour is during surgery. The group focused on brain tumours and even gave a live demonstration to show how revolutionary this phenomena is. 

 “An event that links universities like Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and medical organisations such as Hamad and Sidra with high school students is rare in Qatar. All the students grasped the opportunity with both hands and really stepped up to the mark to produce some high standard presentations. We’ve had some very positive feedback from staff and students alike and are already looking forward to the third conference at Doha College sometime in the next academic year.” Rachel Hart, Head of Biology at Doha College and the organiser of the event

Students across Qatar encouraged 3 [].jpg“I am impressed by the quality of research and the presentation by these high school students, which can easily match those of college students.” Professor Emmanuel Akporiaye, Sidra Medical and Research Center. “This is a fantastic initiative for Qatar as it encourages young minds to believe in their future potential in the medical field. I have judged high school medical research competitions in the US for a number of years and was impressed with the submissions for this medical conference. The high calibre of entries is a good sign for the growing academic health system of Qatar. It would be great to see more young Qatari students participating.” Professor Ramzi Mohammad, Hamad Medical Corporation.

“All three presentations were high quality in content, style and relevance to the audience. They chose complex and hot topics which promise significant advancement in personalised and precision medicine. All presenters worked well together and demonstrated a great degree of collaborative team-playing. The presentations went on smoothly and students transitioned from one to another like an Olympic tag team. Their audio-visual tools and live demonstrations were exemplary. Personally, as I listened to their presentations I felt I wanted to go back to school to study what they were studying. It was very difficult to judge who came first, second or third. It was obvious they all worked hard and they all were very inspiring. Naturally, this quality work reflects the unwavering support and guidance of the students' teachers and mentors of all participating schools. I wish all the best for our future leaders in science and medicine.” Professor Basim Uthman, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.