When the Qatar Foundation’s Stars of Science returned for season 14 on September 2, their jury consisted of two prominent voices from two different fields, engineering and medicine – underscoring an urgent need in the Arab world and beyond.
Professor Fouad Mrad, a jury member since it first aired in 2009, has a background in electrical engineering and extensive experience as an industrial product developer, academic researcher and thought leader. Meanwhile, Dr. Aisha A. Yousuf, medical director of reproductive surgery at Sidra Medicine, a women’s and children’s hospital based in Qatar and a member of the Qatar Foundation (QF), a valuable perspective from the medical sector – particularly for candidates looking to develop health-centric innovations.
The show’s jury will also have a third member in each episode, chosen from a select group of Arab experts – including Stars of Science alumni – representing a variety of scientific fields.
according to dr Dena Ahmed S. Al Thani, Associate Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs at the College of Science and Engineering at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) – a member of QF – embodies this season’s jury on how QF seeks to achieve a multidisciplinary approach to the technological development in different sectors, especially in the health sector.
“Getting engineers and medical researchers to work together to develop novel technologies is critical to building more resilient healthcare systems,” said Dr. Al Thani.
“Many of the inventions we often take for granted today—such as prosthetic limbs, surgical robots, and X-rays—were justified by applying engineering principles to solve medical problems. They have made leaps and bounds in health care, so we want to continue this upward trend so that Qatar and the world are even better prepared for future crises.”
This season, several members of the top 7 have used their technical know-how to develop health technologies. Mohammed Tahri Sqalli, a candidate from Morocco, used his computer science training to develop the “Eye Catcher EKG Reading Assistant” – a tool designed to give medical students feedback on how to read electrocardiogram charts correctly by tracking their eye movements.
Although he had no formal training in biology or medicine, Sqalli spent much of his time as a graduate student at HBKU researching these areas across the various facets of Education City.
“It was a QF conversation that inspired my project,” he said. “HBKU has always given me the opportunity to engage in and explore various academic areas within QF’s Education City campus during my time there, and it has given me the opportunity to align my technical skills with healthcare.”
Stars of Science participants can further leverage the QF innovation ecosystem by supporting QF member Qatar Science & Technology Park with its innovation programs that include mentoring and enrollment in its flagship accelerator program XLR8.
Other participants have also used their technical knowledge to offer preventive solutions that could reduce the burden on healthcare systems. Abdulla Bakhit Almarri, an innovator from Qatar, created the Vibration Communication Vest, a protective gear that uses vibration motors on the user’s body to transmit simple messages at dangerous construction sites.
“Stars of Science showed me that innovators can deliver solutions for their communities, regardless of their specialization,” he said. “The show has provided me with a platform where I can use my background in mechanical engineering to address issues in other sectors – while learning from subject matter experts across disciplines.”
Many previous competitors have also embraced this approach, resulting in inventions that address important healthcare issues. San Francisco-based alumnus Ahmad Al Ghazi spent several years developing CAN mobilities, the world’s smartest walking stick – an innovation he launched on Stars of Science in 2010. Launched last month, CAN is available to pre-order now for delivery in Fall 2022.
These and other inventions that got their start on the show, such as Ziad Sankari’s Cardiodiagnostics or Hassan Al Balawi’s Wakecap Technologies, represent the tremendous opportunity that lies at the intersection of technology and medicine.
Stars of Science will air every Friday and Saturday from September 2 to October 14, 2022 on six channels in the region and online. Please visit the broadcast guide for channels and timings, starsofscience.com.