Birzeit University hosts 5th PFMR Biomedical Research Symposium

Birzeit University’s Biology and Biochemistry department hosted the fifth symposium of the Palestinian Forum for Medical Research on Saturday April 4, 2015.

Guests from local and international institutions were welcomed by Vice President of Academic Affiars Henry Giacaman, who wished the attendees a productive and successful day. Forum Chairman Rami Aqeilan then presented the group’s achievements over the past five years, culminating in its registration with the Ministry of Interior as an official non-profit.

Aqeilan noted the importance of these meetings for masters’ and bachelor's students wishing to participate in scientific discussions and to be exposed to the atmosphere of conferences and new research. The symposium was distinct from the four previous conferences in many ways; the number of attendees exceeded 200 people and a student from Gaza presented via video conferencing. Three world-class researchers were invited and two of them were able to attend. Professor Victoria Seewaldt of Duke University in the United States discussed her research in the field of breast cancer, and Professor Rifaat Safadi, a leader in the field of hepatology and liver disease, presented his work on the impact of obesity and other effects on the development of liver disease such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. Israeli restrictions prevented the forum from hosting Professor Nabil Mohie Abdel-Hamid of Minia University, Egypt. He sent his wishes that the day be productive and said he hoped to be involved in the near future.

The symposium also included lectures by students and professors and a display of posters produced by students and their supervisors. At the end of the conference, awards were distributed for best poster and oral presentations. Abeer Anabtawi, Tamara Jaraysa (both of Bethlehem University), and Riham Smoom (of Al-Quds University) were recognized for their posters, and Heba ElShorafa (of the Islamic University in Gaza) came in second place and Ahlam Mujahed (of Augusta Victoria Hospital) came in third place for their presentations. First place for best presentation went to undergraduate Biology and Biochemistry student Darine Samandar Eweis for her research in the field of soft drinks and their impact on obesity and fatty liver disease.

Chairman of the conference’s Organizing Committee, Johnny Stiban, emphasized the importance of these conferences and meetings for students and professors alike to network and conduct joint research in order to contribute to the promotion of scientific research in Palestine. Stiban, who participates regularly in international conferences on behalf of Birzeit University, emphasized that the students are the core of the teaching process and should be more influential in the design and running of experiments and presenting at conferences in order that they evolve as young scientists. He also noted new developments in the Biology and Biochemistry department, which will begin offering a masters program in environmental biology in September of this year, thus enriching scientific research for students and teachers in the field of the environment. Finally, he expressed the wish that there be systematic and ongoing financial support for scientific research in all fields of science.