Carnegie Mellon University

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September 07, 2017

Carnegie Mellon Qatar Alumni Explore Emerging Fields of Medical Technology

By Angela Ford

When Hashim Moosavi started university as a freshman in computer science, he never imagined he would build a career improving the patient experience in a pediatric hospital.

"I was very involved with the tech community in Qatar," said Moosavi, who completed his degree in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) in 2014. "I participated in hackathons and built a very good network of tech developers."

After graduation, Moosavi was working at IBM in Bangalore when he learned that Sidra Medical and Research Center, a new pediatric and maternal health care facility in Doha, was creating an in-house innovation technology team. Moosavi jumped at the chance.

"Med-tech is a special field, it's still in its infancy, but it is growing," he said.

The Center for Medical Imaging Science and Technology at Sidra serves a clinical support role, as well as creating innovative tools like printing of 3-D radiological scans to help surgeons visualize organs before they are in the operating room.

"The future of medicine and patient care is intertwined with technology, and we are finding some exciting new ways to help doctors. It can be tricky, for instance, for patients and their families to conceptualize what a surgeon will do during an operation, but technology can help them visualize and understand," said Deepak Kaura, executive chair of Foundation Medical Services at Sidra.

"Not many hospitals around the world support technology this way. Sidra is one of the few hospitals that is driving innovation and embracing new technologies," Kaura said. "Patient experience is a key aspect of the work we do."

Aya Abd Elaal, a 2016 graduate who studied biological sciences, works in the Clinical Chemistry Division of the Sidra lab. Sidra is preparing to open the in-patient portion of the hospital in early 2018, and Elaal is part of the team working in the laboratory to complete intensive validation processes to ensure the equipment is producing valid and reliable results.

"We're building something new, not many people have had a chance to build a lab from the ground up," she said.

Biological sciences students at CMU-Q complete coursework in all of the foundational sciences, including computer science. With the level of technology and automation in Sidra's laboratory, this education helps prepare alumni to handle the technical, precise validation processes.

"At Sidra, we use an apprenticeship model with new graduates — all part of an extensive development program aimed at continuous learning and upskilling," said Jason Ford, vice chair of the Department of Pathology at Sidra. "In a short amount of time, the CMU graduates have become an important part of our team: they have the scientific knowledge to make them invaluable during this extensive validation phase."

Ford said the hospital is working with recent alumni to help them build careers in pediatric and laboratory medicine.

"It is our responsibility — to the future of medicine, and the future of Qatar specifically — to train young professionals to provide the very best patient care," Ford said.

Hasan Al Mana, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences in 2015, works in the Molecular Microbiology Division. He will begin studying for his master's degree in biomedical sciences this year.

"Sidra has exposed me to many different aspects of laboratory science, and I have found a direction where I can make a difference," Al Mana said.

Rayan Hashim, also a graduate of the Class of 2016, is planning to continue her career in laboratory medicine.

"CMU doesn't just teach knowledge, it gave us the tools we need to think outside the box," Hashim said.