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Ola Al-Ghazawy

Cairo, Egypt
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About Ola
Ola Al-Ghazawy is a seasoned science journalist and editor based in Cairo, Egypt, with a distinguished career that began in 2008. Specializing in health sciences, medical research, and the impact of environmental technology, she has made significant contributions to international media outlets. Al-Ghazawy's bilingual reporting in English and Arabic covers a wide range of topics, including medicine, the environment, and other science-based subjects for prestigious publications such as Nature Middle East, the Arabic version of Scientific American, and SciDev.net's global and MENA portals.

Her journalistic work is notable for its depth and breadth, addressing complex issues such as the development of new water desalination techniques in Australia, the rise of HIV infections in the Middle East and North Africa, and the intricacies of HIV research and healthcare in these regions. Al-Ghazawy has also provided insightful coverage on the advancements in the human genome database project (gnomAD), the societal and psychological effects of cannabis use, and the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, with a particular focus on disparities faced by Arab countries and North Africa. Her reporting has shone a light on the achievements of regional scientists like pharmacogeneticist Nathalie Khoueiry-Zgheib in Lebanon, who has been recognized for her contributions to medical and health sciences amidst the country's crises.

Beyond her reporting, Al-Ghazawy is deeply committed to the development of the next generation of science journalists. She is the founder of the Planet X initiative, which is dedicated to training young Arab individuals aspiring to enter the field of science journalism. Through her initiative, Al-Ghazawy is fostering a new wave of journalists who can effectively communicate complex scientific topics to the public, ensuring that critical information is accessible and engaging for audiences in the Arab world and beyond.
Arabic English
Interview (Video / Broadcast) Journalism Live Reporting
Science & Environment Fact Checking

Vast economic gaps and conflicts are behind large inequities in vaccine distribution among Arab populations.

14 Feb 2021  |  Nature Middle East
The article discusses the disparities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution among Arab populations, highlighting the economic and conflict-related challenges that contribute to these inequities. While countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have made significant progress in their vaccination campaigns due to early bilateral deals with manufacturers and strong supply chain capabilities, others like Egypt lag behind. The WHO's discouragement of bilateral deals was ignored by many developed countries, leading to a situation where the global supply of vaccines is dominated by wealthier nations. The COVAX initiative aims to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, but challenges persist, especially in conflict zones. The article also mentions successful strategies in countries like Morocco and suggests that comprehensive planning and international support are crucial for overcoming the challenges in vaccine distribution.

The 'gnomAD' database helps researchers make new discoveries in genomics

13 Dec 2020  |  Scientific American
The gnomAD database, launched by an international consortium in 2012, has become the largest accessible human genome database for researchers. Recent studies published in Nature and other journals have utilized gnomAD data to make significant discoveries in genomics, aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases. Researchers have identified genetic variants that can lead to diseases and have used the database to understand the effects of gene disruption, potentially reducing the failure rate of new drugs in clinical trials. The database's open access supports the scientific community globally, aligning with the UN's goals for health and well-being.

Why do cannabis users feel a desire for social withdrawal?

13 Dec 2020  |  Scientific American
Cannabis users, like the 23-year-old university student Ahmed Saeed, often experience a desire for social withdrawal, a symptom that can escalate to a lack of motivation syndrome. The 2020 World Drug Report indicates that cannabis is the most widely used drug globally. Experts like Alfet Allam and Mahmoud Al-Habibi explain that cannabis is a depressant, leading to relaxation and slow response to events. A study published in Nature by Giovanni Marsicano and his team at the University of Bordeaux found that THC disrupts the metabolism within astrocytes in the brain, reducing lactate production and leading to energy stress in neurons, which may decrease social interactions. The study's findings are based on observations of mice behavior and cellular experiments. While there is no pharmacological treatment for cannabis use, psychological treatment strategies are employed, considering factors like the user's age and dosage. The article also discusses the cultural acceptance of cannabis in some societies and the need for more research on its effects.


12 Dec 2020  |  www.natureasia.com
Nathalie Khoueiry-Zgheib, a pharmacogeneticist at the American University in Beirut, has been awarded the 2020 Arab Researchers Award in medical and health sciences by the Abdulhameed Shoman Foundation. Despite Lebanon's multiple crises, she has established a pharmacogenetics laboratory at AUB, focusing on genetic and epigenetic influences on diseases like breast cancer and acute lymphocytic leukaemia. Her research aims to personalize therapy for children with cancer and investigate cardiovascular disease links to air pollution. Khoueiry-Zgheib is dedicated to putting Lebanon on the pharmacogenetics map and advancing personalized medicine in the Arabic-speaking Middle East.

New HIV infections have risen sharply in the past decade across the Middle East and North Africa, despite falling numbers at the global level.

12 Dec 2020  |  www.natureasia.com
The article discusses the alarming rise in new HIV infections in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, despite a global decline. The UNAIDS Data 2020 report shows a 22% increase in new cases since 2010, with only 38% of those with HIV in MENA accessing antiretroviral therapy. Factors contributing to this rise include humanitarian crises, constraints on civil society organizations, and the stigmatization of high-risk groups. Hiam Chemaitelly from Weill Cornell Medicine College in Qatar emphasizes the failure of current HIV programs to reach these groups. The article also highlights the challenges in HIV research and funding in the region, the low rates of HIV testing among at-risk populations, and the need for a human rights-based approach to combat the epidemic, as advocated by UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima.

Who are the priority recipients of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine?

29 Sep 2020  |  Scientific American
The world is closely following the development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has caused over 33 million infections and more than a million deaths globally as of September 29, 2020. Scientists are racing to develop a vaccine to immunize the world's population against SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization has listed 40 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation. A fair and equitable distribution of the vaccine is a challenge that global institutions and scientists are addressing. A new model called the 'Fair Priority Model' has been developed by 19 health experts worldwide and published in Science Journal on September 3, 2020. This model is directed at three specific groups: COVAX, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, and governments. It is based on three principles: benefiting people and limiting harm, prioritizing the disadvantaged, and equal moral concern. The model acknowledges that vaccines will be distributed unequally but fairly, based on each country's needs. The distribution will occur in three phases: addressing countries with high rates of premature death, measuring the overall economic impact and reduction in poverty per vaccine dose, and reducing virus transmission. The study also discusses the challenges of national bias in vaccine distribution, highlighting the need for global cooperation and fair allocation frameworks.

Transforming bitter saltwater into sweet Euphrates under the cover of darkness

23 Aug 2020  |  SciDev.Net
A research team has successfully desalinated water using a new technique that exploits the properties of synthetic materials with metal-organic frameworks known for their fluid adsorption capabilities. The compound PSP-MIL-53, developed by the researchers, desalinated saltwater in less than half an hour, offering a more sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective method compared to current technologies. The study's lead researcher, Wan-Ting Wang from Monash University's Department of Chemical Engineering, highlights the material's high adsorption capacity and renewability with just four minutes of sunlight exposure. The technique aligns with the World Health Organization's standards for potable water and is seen as promising, especially for water-scarce regions in the Middle East and North Africa. However, challenges related to adsorption capacity and the stability of the metal-organic frameworks during regeneration cycles need to be addressed for commercial application.

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