Dr Saba Al Heialy was one of 15 female scientists worldwide honoured as ‘International Rising Talent.’
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 honoured 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 per cent of researchers are women, with a mere 11 per cent 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 honour 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 per cent of MBRU’s workforce and 75 per cent 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 Paediatric 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.
Last month, the Emirates Scientists Council, ESC, has announced a strategic partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, MBRU, granting scientists and researchers direct access to the university’s advanced technologies, instruments, and ample scientific resources.
The partnership is in line with the objectives of the National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031, which seeks to drive scientific research on a national scale and enrich scientific resources in vital sectors. It allows scientists to make use of the top scientific resources in the UAE’s leading universities and scientific research institutions, ensures continuity in research in the Emirates, and lays the foundation for an environment that supports scientific progress and the exchange of knowledge among experts and academic institutions.
Sarah Bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, said: “The UAE Government is committed to establishing an environment that embraces science as a main pillar of its future strategy, and believes in the importance of scientific output in proposing solutions for the challenges standing in the way of sustainable development.”
Al Amiri noted that that partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid University forms part of the OpenLabs platform. “It reflects our dedication to implementing the UAE leadership’s vision to localise research and create knowledge rather than simply receive it,” he explained. “It also lays the groundwork for developing the scientific sector across the UAE, building partnerships, and enhancing cooperation among various entities and academic institutions to accomplish the objectives of the national sciences agenda.”
The partnership between the two parties will be focusing on finding solutions for the challenges facing the healthcare sector.
“Our mission at the University is to advance health in the UAE and the region,” said Dr Amer Sharif, Vice Chancellor of the MBRU. “To that end, we seek to build an integrated academic health system rooted in innovation and research. We are confident that the agreement will significantly facilitate communication in healthcare, provide the sector with all necessary resources, and support passionate and innovative researchers from outside the university to tackle healthcare challenges.”