NIAID-MENAT Strategy for Enhanced Research Engagement

Organization and History

In 2020, NIAID launched an effort to focus on strengthening scientific collaboration between the United States and the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) scientific community. Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh joined NIAID as the Senior Advisor on Research in the Middle East and North Africa, Office of the Principal Deputy Director. To accomplish this goal, NIAID is coordinating targeted scientific interactions between MENAT and U.S. scientists. A Regional Advisory Panel (RAP) was established to advise on MENAT scientific priorities and research excellence in the region, with members representing Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. The NIAID-MENAT Strategy for Enhanced Research will engage scientists through focus groups and workshops to highlight NIAID-relevant research in the MENAT region.

Mandate

Planning and executing the road map to promote NIH-funded research in the MENAT region

  • Create a strategic plan or roadmap for biomedical research-focused interactions involving U.S. and MENAT scientists
  • Focus on strengthening scientific collaboration between U.S. and MENAT researchers in relevant focus areas
  • Conduct focus group meetings in the MENAT region with the objectives to promote scientific exchange, build networks, explore opportunities for collaboration, and foster relationships between scientists from the United States, the MENAT region, and other countries
  • Conduct scientific workshops in areas of
    • Antimicrobial resistance
    • Asthma, Immunology, and Autoimmunity
    • Infections in migrant populations
    • Viral infections, pandemics, etc.
  • Attribute potential publications arising from scientific workshops (white papers)
  • Provide scientific leadership and coordination to develop scientific workshops in the MENAT region focused on high-priority infectious diseases and immunology programs
  • Identify MENAT scientists in relevant areas and disciplines to present at scientific workshops and potentially engage in collaborative research
  • Identify and interface with appropriate local co-hosts to help plan scientific workshops, and assist with meeting costs
  • Identify opportunities for research-oriented site visits to occur over a ½-1-day period after the conclusion of the scientific workshops

Regional Advisory Panel (RAP)

RAP Chair

Dr. Mohamed H. Sayegh
Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
mohamed.sayegh@nih.gov

RAP Members

Dr. Mohamed Chakroun
Head of Department of Infectious Diseases
Faculty of Medicine, University of Monastir, Tunisia
chakrounme@gmail.com

Dr. Ghassan Dbaibo
Professor
Pediatric Infectious Diseases, AUB, Lebanon
gdbaibo@aub.edu.lb

Dr. Rana Hajjeh
Director of Programme Management
World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt
hajjehr@who.int

Dr. Qutayba Hamid
Dean of College of Medicine
University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
qalheialy@sharjah.ac.ae

Dr. Souha Kanj Shararah
Professor
Center for Infectious Diseases Research, AUB, Lebanon
sk11@aub.edu.lb

Dr. Gulfaraz Khan
Professor of Viral Pathology & Chair of Department of Microbiology & Immunology
College of Medicine, United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
g_khan@uaeu.ac.ae

Dr. Ziad Memish
Senior Infectious Disease Consultant and Director, Research & Innovation Centre
King Saud Medical City, Ministry of Health, College of Medicine, AlFaisal University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
zmemish@yahoo.com

Dr. Meliha Meriç Koç
Professor
Bezmialem Vakif University School of Medicine, Turkey
mmkoc@bezmialem.edu.tr

Dr. Ahmet Ozen
Professor
Marmara University, Turkey
ahmet.ozen@marmara.edu.tr

Dr. Shadi Saleh
Founding Director
Global Health Institute, American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon
ss117@aub.edu.lb

Dr. Mohamed-Ridha Barbouche
Professor in Immunology
Medical School, University of Tunis, Tunisia
medridha.barbouche@pasteur.tn

Dr. Abeer Nizar Al Shukairi
Consultant Internal Medicine and Adult Infectious Diseases
King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
abeer.alshukairi@gmail.com

Dr. Mohamed Hassany
Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Hepatogastroenterology
National Hepatology and Tropical Medicine Research Institute, Egypt
mohamadhassany@yahoo.com

Ongoing Efforts

Focus Group Meetings

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group on Emerging Viral Infections, November 10, 2020

This focus group brought together NIAID and MENAT scientists virtually to discuss current MENAT research efforts on emerging viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2. The group included 50 research experts from the MENAT region, NIAID extramural and intramural scientists and staff, and members of the NIAID MENAT Regional Advisory Panel (RAP). It featured 18 presentations on genetics and genomics, immunology and immune responses, screening and risk factors, and therapies and vaccines.

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group on Antimicrobial Resistance Research, December 8, 2020

This focus group brought together NIAID and MENAT scientists virtually to discuss current MENAT research efforts on antimicrobial resistance research. The group included 33 research experts from the MENAT region, NIAID extramural and intramural scientists and staff, and members of the NIAID MENAT RAP. It featured 16 presentations on antimicrobial resistance.

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group on Immunologic Diseases, March 9, 17, and 22, 2021

This focus group brought together NIAID and MENAT scientists virtually to discuss current MENAT research efforts on antimicrobial resistance research. The group included 30 research experts from the MENAT region, NIAID extramural and intramural scientists and staff, and members of the NIAID MENAT RAP. It featured 37 presentations on autoimmune and immune diseases; asthma, allergies, and hypersensitivities; and genetics and immunodeficiencies.

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group on Opportunities for Research in Displaced, Migrant, and Mass Gatherings Populations, May 18, 2021

This focus group brought together NIAID and MENAT scientists virtually to discuss current MENAT research efforts on opportunities for research in displaced, migrant and mass gatherings populations. The group included 28 research experts from the MENAT region, NIAID extramural and intramural scientists and staff, and members of the NIAID MENAT RAP. It featured 6 presentations on opportunities for research in displaced, migrant and mass gatherings populations.

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group on Challenges and Opportunities for Research in HIV and TB, October 13, 2021

U.S.-MENAT Focus Group discussed challenges and opportunities for research in HIV and TB, on October 13, 2021. This focus group brought together NIAID and MENAT scientists virtually to discuss current MENAT research efforts in HIV and TB. The group included 37 research experts from the MENAT region, NIAID extramural and intramural scientists and staff, and members of the NIAID MENAT RAP. It featured 16 presentations which propose programs and strategies to help reduce the burden of HIV and TB.

Scientific Workshops

At the conclusion of the focus groups, NIAID, with scientific advice from the RAP, will convene workshops in the same scientific areas. The objectives of these workshops are to promote scientific exchange, build networks, explore opportunities for collaboration, and foster relationships between scientists from the United States, the MENAT region, and other countries. The workshops will be hosted in the region.

The Joint Işil Berat Barlan Symposium on Immunologic Disorders and the History of Medicine Meeting 
November 10-12, 2021

To strengthen scientific research in the MENAT region and to foster collaboration between MENAT and U.S. scientists, NIAID and Marmara University co-sponsored a hybrid symposium on immunologic disorders in Istanbul, Turkey on November 10-12, 2021. The objectives of the symposium included scientific exchange, building networks, fostering relationships with scientists from the United States and MENAT region, and exploring opportunities for collaboration. The symposium enhanced and expanded knowledge of immunodeficiencies and immunologic disorders in MENAT countries. Discussions and presentations were conducted through plenary and panel breakout sessions led by MENAT and U.S. researchers.

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