null Former RI-MUHC trainee wins L’Oréal-Unesco science award
Omani researcher Maha al-Riyami, PhD, studies underlying causes of type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases
SOURCE: Muscat Daily and RI-MUHC.
An Omani researcher is among the five winners of the prestigious L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents 2022 program for her study investigating underlying causes of type 1 diabetes.
Recognizing the remarkable scientific discoveries of women in the Arab world and underscoring their role in solving today’s challenges, as well as inspiring future generations of girls, the program aims to promote the participation of young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
Maha al Riyami, PhD, 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 celiac disease that could lead to their prevention. This work has roots in her research as a doctoral student in experimental medicine at McGill University and trainee at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).
“From 2012 to 2019 Maha al-Riyami worked on the molecular genetics of diabetes and celiac disease in my laboratory,” says her former doctoral supervisor, Dr. Constantin Polychronakos, senior scientist in the Child Health and Human Development Program at the RI-MUHC. “The first phase of her work was published in Genome Research and she also co-authored an editorial in Nature Genetics with me. I am very pleased to see projects begun here by our international students mature and prosper, along with their careers in their home countries. Last year, she also won the National Research Award, the highest yearly prize for science in Oman”.
Asked how her research will help fight type 1 diabetes, Maha al-Riyami says 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 individualized treatment,” she says.
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.”
Learn more about the L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents program
Read more in the Muscat Daily
December 20, 2022