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Qatar Chronicle

Qatar Chronicle

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Published by Brandon Paton

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Published by: Brandon Paton on Jun 03, 2011
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Qatar Students Hone Research
“Scientific study integrated with patient care is the core of medical education … At Cornell, research and the advancement of medical knowledge are not only ends in themselvesbut are integrated in a vision of the scientific basis of a thorough medical education.” 
his excerpt from the Weill Medical College ofCornell University’s mission statement reflectsthe school’s emphasis on research and scienceas the foundation of good clinical medicine. In keepingwith this philosophy, a group of eleven medical studentsfrom the WCMC-Q Class of 2008 spent an eight-weekfellowship at Weill Medical College in New York Cityduring the summer. They worked in the labs of WeillCornell faculty, collaborating with, and learning from,other medical, graduate and post-doctoral students, andenjoying an interaction with active researchers that is notyet available at the Qatar campus. All the students whoparticipated in the research fellowships, which are funded by Qatar Foundation, will present their findings at theAnnual Medical Student Research Forum in November.Olaf Sparre Andersen, M.D., professor of physiologyand biophysics, Director of the MD-PhD Program, andThomas H. Meickle, Jr., Professor of Medical Education atWeill Cornell, explains why an early exposure to researchis important for medical students: “Only by experiencingit can a student learn what high quality research is. Theylearn what is involved in science – discipline and structure. . . Students learn to take a big problem and convert it intosmaller, bite-size problems. This skill is of tremendousimportance in clinical medicine as well as research.”
Research experience tailored to each student
During their pre-medical education, members of theClass of 2008 had participated in research at Cornell’s cam-puses in the U.S., but this was the first year of a formalizedresearch program for WCMC-Q’s medical students, saidGary Schneider, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Researchat WCMC-Q. Students were selected for the fellowshipson the basis of merit, and had to commit to participate inthe full eight-week program.Many of the supervising faculty researchers had vis-
Comparing results: Dr. Lawrence Palmer and Maryam Shafaee discuss the level of expression of the protein epithalial sodium channel(ENaC) under different conditions in laboratory rats. This was Shafaee’s first taste of research, in an environment that she described as“very friendly and relaxed.”
By Jill Gormley
Qatar Chronicle
ited Doha during the school year to teach, and othershad taught WCMC-Q medical students by e-Learningmethods, so the participating faculty and students werefamiliar with each other. Dr. Schneider was able to placethe students in laboratories that he felt best matched theirinterests, skill level and temperament. The supervisingfaculty made a sincere effort to design projects for thestudents that permitted them to make a significant contri- bution to the research work over the course of their short,eight-week fellowship, Dr. Schneider said.Ali Farooki worked in the lab of Shahin Rafii, M.D., Ar-thur B. Belfer Professor of Genetic Medicine and recentlynamed Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.Farooki’s project focused on the importance of citrullina-tion, a post-translational modification, in the formation ofplatelets. His duties most days involved preparing slidesof tissues or cells, staining them with antibodies and ob-serving them under ultraviolet light.He enjoyed these tasks: “Being able to get beautiful im-ages from my work is definitely rewarding,” Farooki said.Regarding the experience overall, he felt that working in alab conducting cutting edge research provided him and hisclassmates a different perspective on their academic medi-cal studies. “It expands our horizons and exposes us to the basic science behind advances in medicine,” he said.For Rana Biary, assigned to the physiology lab of RandiSilver, Ph.D., the experience has been critical to her devel-opment as a medical student. “Last year I sometimes haddifficulty getting a real understanding when I read journalarticles, because I didn’t have experience with the labora-tory techniques,” she said.Working in Dr. Silver’s lab investigating the synthesisand release of renin from mast cells has given her the ex-
Skills at New York City Campus
Summer research in the labs at Weill Cornell in New York City may lead to “significant” discoveries. Here, Subhi Al Aref and Dr. Olaf Andersenanalyze the results of an experiment to measure changes in cell membranes following addition of the compound butanedione 2,3 monoxime.
“Being able to get beautiful imagesfrom my work is definitely rewarding,” Farooki said. Regarding the experienceoverall, he felt that working in a labconducting cutting edge research provided him and his classmates adifferent perspective on their academic medical studies. “It expands ouhorizons and exposes us to the basic  science behind advances in medicine.” 
Fall 2005
The students’ summer was notall work and no play. Althoughtheir duties kept them in the labfrom 9-5 during the work week,their evenings and weekends werefree, and they tried to make themost of their leisure time. As JehanAl Rayahi said, “We realize this isthe last summer of fun,” as nextsummer must be spent in prepara-tion for the USMLE.Shortly after they arrived in NewYork in early July the students at-tended a Broadway production of
Fiddler on the Roof,
and they madeexcursions to museums, events inCentral Park, and several of thecity’s interesting neighborhoods and attractions. Some,like Ali Farooki, spent leisure time visiting friends andrelatives who live in the region.In late July the Qatar campus students hosted a dinnerin their apartment for all of the Medical College Class of2008 students who were in New York City for the sum-mer. About 30 students attended the dinner, whichafforded students from both campuses a rare chance tointeract with each other on a social basis.Rana Biary appreciated the fact that the students fromthe New York campus shared some of the advice andinformation they had received from more advanced stu-dents. She said “It’s nice to talk to the students aboutthe USMLE and other expectations for our studies.”
Students enjoyNew York City offerings
Qatar Chronicle
perience she lacked and built up her confidence. Dr. Silverwas very hands-on, spending several hours a day in the labmonitoring the researchers’ procedures and results. Biaryfeels that she benefited from the attention. “It’s not justwhat you study, it’s how you approach it,” she said. “Youhave to approach lab work like a logarithm, be very orga-nized and go step by step. It doesn’t come intuitively. Butit will help me be a more dexterous clinician.”Dr. Silver, who is associate professor of physiology and biophysics, commented that Biary had benefited from theexperience and contributed well to the work of the lab.“She has developed some good basic lab skills. She ap-plied her basic chemistry, making all her own solutionsand cell cultures, doing Western blots, and even assistingthe grad students in calcium imaging, which is very com-plicated. She took an active role in exposing herself todifferent opportunities.”For Maryam Nemati Shafaee, as for Biary, the fellow-ship was her first taste of research. She engaged in basicscientific research in the lab of Lawrence Palmer, Ph.D.,professor of physiology and biophysics, investigating theexpression of the protein ENaC (epithelial sodium chan-nel) in the collecting ducts of the kidneys as comparedwith other parts of the kidney. Shafaee spent the sum-mer learning basic techniques like the Western blot, and becoming familiar with a variety of lab procedures. Shewas an active participant in lab meetings and journal club,and she presented a journal article to her laboratory col-leagues in mid-August.Shafaee also tried clinical research during her fellow-ship, reviewing charts and conducting data analysis forRache Simmons, M.D., Anne K. and Edwin C. WeiskopfAssociate Professor of Surgical Oncology. Shafaee said theexperience taught her a great deal about the morphologyand treatment of different types of breast cancer. She evenhad the opportunity to observe surgeries, an experiencethat greatly impressed her.Shafaee was hoping that her summer experience wouldgive her an idea of how the fields of clinical and basic sci-entific research operate, and she feels it gave her that, andmore. She was particularly impressed with, and gratefulfor, the camaraderie and kindness she found amongst theother researchers in the lab. “They knew that I don’t have
(Continued on page 35)
While in New York, the WCMC-Q medical students had time to gather informally with facultywho were supervising them in the labs. Seen here are (standing, from left to right): Ali Farooki,Yasir Tarabichi (Class of 2009), Subhi Al Aref, Khaled Al Khelaifi, Dr. Lawrence Palmer, MaryamShafaee, Dino Terzic, Vildana Omerovic, Dr. Olaf Andersen, Dr. Domenick Falcone, Dr. PhilipLeopold and Dr. Adam Asch. Seated are: Dr. Randi Silver, Amila Husic and Michelle Al Khulaifi.

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