MBRU faculty receives top honor at the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards
Dr. Saba Al Heialy, Assistant Professor of Immunology at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine & Health Sciences (MBRU) was one of 15 female scientists worldwide honored as ‘International Rising Talent’ at the 21st L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Award Ceremony.
The award is Dr. Saba’s second L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science recognition. Last year, she was one of only four ‘Outstanding Female Scientists’ from the GCC awarded a Middle East Fellowship. During the ceremony held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Dr. Saba was honored for her research into the link between obesity and asthma, notably into steroid resistance in obese asthmatics.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Awards are designed to enhance female representation in scientific careers. Currently, in the field of research, only 29 percent of researchers are women, with a mere 11 percent of senior academic roles held by women, while only 3 percent of Nobel Prizes for Science have been awarded to women.
“This award is a real honor and brings into focus the fact that obesity is one of the most significant health concerns of our time,” said Dr. Saba. “Currently, obesity impacts close to 20 per cent of the UAE’s population and has been shown to have a strong correlation with asthma – a condition that more than 15 per cent of UAE residents suffer from. The treatment of asthma is more complicated in patients who are obese, steroids are a powerful treatment for asthma yet their lack of efficacy in obese patients may result in negative patient outcomes hence the need for research into steroid resistance in obese asthmatics.”
Professor Alawi Alsheikh-Ali, Dean of the College of Medicine, MBRU, added: “MBRU strives to endorse an environment that promotes and advances research, to provide the infrastructure that empowers our faculty to deep-dive into pertinent subjects and reveal insights that can help advance healthcare in the UAE and beyond.”
“Dr. Saba’s recognition by the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science is a proud moment for MBRU and testament to the dedication and commitment of a talented researcher,” Professor Alsheikh-Ali added.
Dr. Saba’s award underlines the efforts of MBRU to create opportunities, support development and foster progress for its female students and faculty in science. Currently 50 percent of MBRU’s workforce and 75 percent of the 198-strong MBRU student body is female.
Demonstrating its support for the career development journey of all students and staff members, MBRU is also supporting Dr. Eman Al Nuaimi, an MBRU alumnus and Lecturer and Specialist of Pediatric Dentistry at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed College of Dental Medicine and Dubai Dental Hospital, for the duration of her studies for a PhD in Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Leeds, in the UK.
Empowering women has always been a practice at MBRU; both Assistant Deans of Student Happiness and Wellbeing in MBRU’s colleges are Emirati females: Dr. Khawla Belhoul and Dr. Laila Al Suwaidi.