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Story | Education
2 September 2021

Op-ed: “Finding passion in precision medicine made my academic path straightforward”

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Diaglow prototype

Sama Ayoub, a QAD graduate, explains how developing a piece of technology for children with autism helped her decide to pursue a degree in medicine

Selecting Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar as my university of choice was an easy decision, as I knew I would be joining a community that would help me to achieve my dreams of finding solutions to global health challenges.

It was through the support and encouragement provided by Qatar Foundation (QF) that I was able to succeed

Sama Ayoub
Sama Ayoub

I knew this because during my sophomore year at Qatar Academy Doha I created a device that was designed to improve communication between children with autism and their parents called DIAGLOW, and it was through the support and encouragement provided by Qatar Foundation (QF) that I was able to succeed.

It was then I decided to combine my aspiring love for medicine with my skills in design and innovation to help the community

Sama Ayoub

My journey with DIAGLOW began when I volunteered at an art workshop for children with autism. A truly eye-opening experience, I quickly learned there was a stigma surrounding the condition, as well as a lack of tools specially designed to help those with autism. It was then I decided to combine my aspiring love for medicine with my skills in design and innovation to help the community.

What I noticed the most during my experience with the volunteer program was the difficulty in communicating – whether with the children themselves or their parents. And this seemingly simple yet complex issue is what inspired me to pursue this project, as although communication was the central issue, autism affects every person differently, and so the challenge was to find a solution that would suit the greatest majority.

When creating DIAGLOW, QF connected me to multiple entities that supported me on my journey. Qatar Computing Research Institute – part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University – and Texas A&M University at Qatar – a QF partner university – helped me to finalize my innovation, and iron out any technical issues.

The true privilege of being a physician lies in the granted trust to be part of someone’s journey to wellness and good health… That is the doctor I want to become

Sama Ayoub

Following the completion of DIAGLOW, I entered the Science Fair at the National Scientific Research Week, co-organized by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) – also a member of QF – and won first place, qualifying me for the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair in Texas, US. And QNRF helped me prepare for the competition, from logistics to practicing presentations with professors.

I was then given the opportunity to attend the London International Youth Science Forum, where I was able to attend lectures at various universities and meet Nobel laureates in the scientific field, as well as present research on another precision medicine project I’d developed- one that looked at nano-sensor technology to detect blood glucose levels in the breath of diabetic patients. The project was also aided by QNRF and supported by professors from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar – another QF partner university.

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Diaglow booth at the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair in Texas, US

Sama Ayoub at the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair

Diaglow team at the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair

Sama Ayoub and colleague Khadija Elmagarmid at the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair

Sama Ayoub and colleague Khadija Elmagarmid at the Regeneron International Science Engineering Fair

From my personal experience, both as a patient and through professional opportunities, I established an important understanding of this vocation: the true privilege of being a physician lies in the granted trust to be part of someone’s journey to wellness and good health. While science is the fundamental foundation of medicine, so are people.

Patients deserve doctors who understand them, who will listen to their medical concerns and treat every person they see as an individual beyond their condition. That is the doctor I want to become and what makes becoming a physician my dream job.

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