Breaking new ground for early Parkinson’s diagnostics, Qatar-based hopeful qualifies among top nine contestants in Arab world’s leading innovation show
Marking a decade of Arab innovation and research excellence, Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science has launched its tenth season last month, and has featured Qatar-based Nour Majbour from Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) among the top nine contestants.
The popular ‘edutainment reality’ program, which receives additional support from HBKU’s other research institutes including Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), follows the journey of nine Arab innovators through prototyping and customer validation episodes until only four finalists remain to compete for a share of $600,000 in seed funding. The ranking is determined by jury deliberation and online public voting.
Majbour, a full-time research associate at QBRI, skillfully fought her way through the casting stage with her proposed innovation in early Parkinson’s disease (PD) detection. Elaborating on her pioneering idea, she said: “My Parkinson’s Early Detection Kit aims to surpass the current limitations in disease diagnostics through the use of antibodies – a type of protein integral to the body’s immune system that may be leveraged to identify biological signs of the onset of PD.
“For a neuro degenerative disease without a known cure, early detection and treatment are instrumental in relieving symptoms and improving the patients’ quality of life, particularly those who suffer from a lack of options and resources to seek treatment. Witnessing the rapid degenerative process of PD in family members has impacted my research, which aims to honor their legacy and ease the suffering of many other patients worldwide.”
Praising Majbour’s role in deconstructing barriers for Arab women, her mentor and Acting Executive Director at QBRI Dr. Omar El-Agnaf said: “Nour’s entrepreneurial spirit and dedication have crafted an inspirational story for young women whose involvement in STEM is essential to closing the persisting gender gap; today, women still only make up thirty percent of the world’s researchers.”
HBKU’s dedication to fostering talented women in STEM is underlined by the University’s lasting collaboration with Stars of Science – a program that aims to promote access to knowledge and opportunity across broad viewership demographics.
“As one of the participating research institutes, QBRI lends its world-class facilities and mentorship to provide a vital practical dimension to the researcher’s concept implementation phase. Our interdisciplinary approach guides the scientific quest to develop highly-advanced prototypes that can reap long-term economic benefits for the country and the wider region by providing the young contestants with access to ultramodern technologies and firsthand mentorship from experts across a wide array of research specializations,” El-Agnaf continued.
The University’s values of excellence in innovation are echoed in the show’s entrepreneurial and inclusive ecosystem, which has enthralled audiences and highlighted the pace of innovation in science and technology across the Arab world since it first aired in 2008.