Sarah Halawa - press photo
CAIRO – 5 March 2017: PhD student and alumna of The American University in Cairo (AUC) Sarah Halawa was awarded first place at the Magdi Yacoub Foundation’s heart disease conference held in January for her project on the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease in the Egyptian population.
According to an AUC press release, Halawa and her team also won the “Young Investigator Award” at the conference, organized by the Magdi Yacoub Foundation, Aswan Heart Centre and the Pan-African Society of Cardiology.
“I always wanted to pursue a research topic that would benefit my country, Egypt,” Halawa said, stating that this research fulfills her dream.
The project focused on analyzing DNA data, in partnership with the Harefield Heart Science Centre at the Imperial College London.
Halawa continues to work with Dr. Ahmed Moustafa, director of the biotechnology graduate program at AUC, and Yasmine Aguib, deputy director of research for the Magdi Yacoub Foundation to identify “the key genes and other relevant players responsible for vital heart functionalities,” the press release stated.
“The objective of this endeavor … is to discover genetic mutations specific to the Egyptian population that cause cardiovascular disease and propose molecular interventions for prediction, diagnosis and treatment,” Halawa said.
Halawa graduated from AUC at the top of her class in 2011. She earned her master’s in physics in 2014 with highest honors, and she is pursuing her PhD in applied sciences with a specialization in biotechnology.
She wishes to start a research program to look into the genetic basis of major diseases in Egypt. “I wish to promote translational medicine in Egypt where we can take scientific research to the clinic with the goal of improving the public health of the Egyptian people,” she said.
The studies submitted at the conference tackled diverse topics and brought together work from countries such as Namibia, New Zealand and Guatemala.