Biochemistry Ph.D. graduate recognized for groundbreaking research in the Middle East

By: Emma Ea Ambrose

December 9, 2020

Lama AlAbdi, a Purdue Agriculture biochemistry doctoral graduate, was honored as one of six women scientists in the Middle East engaged in breakthrough research. AlAbdi was recognized by the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents Program, a branch of a L’Oréal-UNESCO initiative started 22 years ago that has highlighted 3,400 researchers worldwide. The award is administered in partnership with Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

AlAbdi graduated in Fall, 2019 after studying under Humaira Gowher, associate professor of biochemistry. Gowher’s research focuses on gene expression as it relates to the development of diseases, in particular non-genetic illnesses. Her work with AlAbdi focused on chromatin-regulation of gene expression during mammalian early development and in cancer cells. AlAbdi has continued research in the field of chromatin biology as a postdoctoral scientist focusing on questions related to vision loss and diseases arising in local population due in an increase in consanguineous marriages. Lama AlAbdi is also appointed as an assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“This news is a truly gratifying moment for me and a proud moment for our department,” Gowher said. “Lama continued to work on chromatin regulation of gene expression under supervision of Dr. Fowzan AlKuraya, Department of Genetics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. This is besides teaching and other service she is involved in as faculty. I am truly humbled by Lama’s perseverance and wish her continued success.”

The award also provides AlAbdi and other postdoctoral researchers a 20,000 EUR grant. Celebrating and furthering diversity and revolutionary research in this region is essential and beneficial to the development of STEM fields worldwide, according to H.E. Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, minister of state for advanced technology in the UAE.

“The pandemic has turned 2020 into a transformational year in various aspects of society, and the recognition of women in fields of science is as vital as ever in the drive to remove gender biases across the industry. I am immensely proud to endorse the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Regional Young Talents Program and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of these six women,” Al Amir said.

Lama AlAbdi (right) with Humaira Gowher at AlAbdi's thesis defense.
Lama AlAbdi (right) with Humaira Gowher at AlAbdi's thesis defense.

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