Seven aspiring biomedical scientists gained key research skills by completing Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar’s (WCM-Q) Biomedical Research Training Program (BRTP) for Nationals.
The BRTP is designed to give Qatari nationals and long-term residents who have recently graduated from college a solid foundation in practical lab skills, experience of working on real research projects alongside WCM-Q’s highly qualified scientific faculty, clinical research competencies, and an understanding of key concepts in research administration.
In recognition of their successful mastery of the skills and competencies covered on the program, the interns were presented with certificates of graduation at a special ceremony held at WCM-Q. This year’s ceremony also celebrated the tenth anniversary of the BRTP, which has provided training to 44 interns since its launch in 2011, including this year’s cohort. The program was paused in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic but restarted in 2021. In its decade of activity, the BRTP has become an established bridge for college graduates to transition to the workplace and kickstart careers in research, with many who have completed the program going on to gain positions at leading institutions such as Qatar National Research Fund, Anti-Doping Lab Qatar, Sidra Medicine, Qatar University (QU), Hamad Medical Corporation, the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and WCM-Q itself. In addition to providing individuals with key research skills, the wider aim of the BRTP is to produce a generation of highly skilled scientists from the local talent pool in order to endow Qatar with the capacity to build the knowledge-based economy of the future.
Shaikha AlQahtani, BRTP alumna and research training manager at WCM-Q, said: “Although we had to pause the program in 2020 due to the pandemic we were able to relaunch it and now we are celebrating a decade of running the program. We met amazing researchers during these years, and what pleases me the most is that our own graduates are recommending the program to their friends and relatives. We have a number of our previous BRTP graduates attending our graduation ceremony today celebrating the successful decade with us and I am very happy that we have this strong bond with them.”
The interns who completed the BRTP this year were Alanoud Al-Thani, Jawaher Al-Hamaq, Aysha AlSaad, Anoud Duale, Hana Mohamed, Rwedah Ajeeb, and Sondos Yousef. All are graduates of Qatar University, apart from Anoud Duale, who graduated from Bangalore University. The WCM-Q faculty who provided mentorship were Dr. Nancy Nader, assistant professor of research in physiology and biophysics; Dr. Anna Halama, assistant professor of research in physiology & biophysics; Dr. Amal Robay, assistant professor of research in genetic medicine/director of research compliance; Dr. Ali Sultan, professor of teaching in microbiology and immunology; Dr. Laith Abu-Raddad, associate dean for extramural research funding/professor of population health sciences/director of the biostatistics, epidemiology, and biomathematics research core; and Dr. Frank Schmidt, director of the proteomics core & associate professor of biochemistry.
QU biology graduate Jawaher Al-Hamaq interned on the BRTP under the mentorship of Dr. Nader. Jawaher said: “The BRTP program offers a great insight about the backstage work of research and how to apply previous knowledge gained in my undergraduate studies. Being involved in a real research project and overcoming obstacles along the way made it possible to acquire essential skills as an upcoming researcher. Such experience would not be gained without the guidance of phenomenal researchers such as Dr. Nader, who presented all the key attributes of a researcher. The experience was fruitful, and I am pleased to have completed the program.”
WCM-Q’s Dr. Khaled Machaca, professor of physiology and biophysics/senior associate dean for research, innovations, and commercialization, said: “I offer my warmest congratulations to our latest cohort of BRTP graduates, and my thanks to our growing community of BRTP alumni for continuing the mission of the BRTP through building excellent careers in research in Qatar. The success and national contribution of our ambitious, talented, and dedicated BRTP graduates are a wonderful asset for the State of Qatar and its booming R&D sector.”