Home LearningExcellence In... MBRU Researcher Becomes the First-Ever Emirati to be Published in Leading Scientific Journal, Nature Communications

MBRU Researcher Becomes the First-Ever Emirati to be Published in Leading Scientific Journal, Nature Communications

by Eddie Rayner

Dr Saif Al Qassim, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) has become the first Emirati scientist to be featured in Nature Communications, one of the world’s most eminent peer-reviewed scientific journals, for his work on a breakthrough study on molecular mechanisms in the human body.

Dr Al Qassim and a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted the research titled ‘A tunable LIC1-adaptor interaction modulates dynein activity in a cargo-specific manner’ on Dynein, a molecular motor that is responsible for the transportation of various cellular cargo and plays a critical role in cell division. Dynein is hijacked by viruses during infection.

The malfunction of the Dynein machinery is associated with developmental and neurodegenerative disorders. The study provides crucial insights into the molecular basis of activation of the Dynein’s processive motility, bringing immense biological significance.

Structural and biophysical approaches are crucial for understanding molecular function in the context of disease and pathogenic infection, contributing directly to drug and therapeutic development. Their importance has been brought into the spotlight through the development of the various vaccines against Covid-19 that would not have been possible without an in-depth understanding of the atomic resolution structure of the virus’ molecules.

The study by Dr Al Qassim and his co-researchers was carried by Nature Communications, renowned as one of the most distinguished open access journals in the world that publishes scientifically rigorous research, employing an extremely strict acceptance rate of just under 8%.

“I am honoured to be a part of this research project that has produced thought-provoking results and shines a light on the importance of the dynein transport machinery, which will provide a solid foundation for the development of treatment methodologies for a variety of diseases,” said Dr Al Qassim, who is also the first Emirati scientist to be trained in structural biology and biophysical chemistry at the renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania,

“I am immensely grateful to MBRU for the faith shown in me and encouragement in this research journey. This study provides a foundation for me to conduct other studies on structural biology and biophysical research in the UAE and help advance healthcare in our country and the region, in line with the vision of MBRU,” he added.

Dr Amer Sharif, Vice-Chancellor, MBRU, said: “Promoting excellence in research is one of our core values, and the fact another member of our faculty has been involved in an innovative study that will have a far-reaching impact in medical science, reinforces the work we do at MBRU.

“We hope that the publication of this study in this distinguished journal will serve as a catalyst for the UAE’s research community to aim higher and encourage collaborations with researchers at elite medical and scientific institutions across the world.”

The full study can be accessed here