Dr. Essam Abdelalim

Essam Abdelalim

 Scientist (QBRI)
 Assistant Professor (HBKU)

 Tel: + 974 44546432
Dr. Essam M. Abdelalim obtained his B.Sc. degree in Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and his M.Sc. degree in Cytology and Histology in 2002 from the Suez Canal University (Egypt). He received his Ph.D. in Medical Science from Shiga University of Medical Science, Japan (2009), and was later appointed as Assistant Professor in the same university. After his Ph.D., he was appointed as Assistant Professor at the Suez Canal University and then he moved back to Japan, where he was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) (2009- 2011). During that time, his research received funding from the JSPS to investigate the roles of natriuretic peptides and p53 in the regulation of self-renewal, pluripotency, and differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In 2014, he was promoted to the position of Associate Professor of Cytology & Histology at the Suez Canal University (in leave of absence). In 2013, he joined the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) as a Research Fellow and was later promoted to a Scientist (2014). In 2015, Dr. Abdelalim joined Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), where he holds a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor at the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) and as a faculty in the division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Abdelalim has received several prestigious awards, including the State Prize of Encouragement (Egypt) in 2012 and the President’s Award for outstanding PhD student from Shiga University of Medical Science (Japan) in 2007. Dr. Abdelalim is a member of the editorial board of Stem Cells and Development and Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology and serves as a reviewer for several international journals and funding agencies.
Dr. Abdelalim’s research interest focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling unique characteristics of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and establishing their differentiation into specific cell types. His research has led to the identification of several genes involved in self-renewal, cell survival, pluripotency, and differentiation of PSCs as well as mapping of specific proteins in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In addition to addressing basic questions of pluripotent stem cell biology, his current research at QBRI focuses on elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying specific forms of diabetes and the potential use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and (ESCs) to study diabetes, insulin resistance, and pancreatic beta cell development.
Dr. Abdelalim is leading projects on using iPSC technology to study Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and insulin resistance in Qatari cohort as follows:

Project 1:
T2D is the most prevalent form among diabetic patients and is one of the greatest health challenges facing Qatar and the world today. T2D mainly occurs as a result of a defect in pancreatic β cells to secrete enough insulin and/or the inability of target tissue(s) to respond appropriately to insulin (insulin resistance). Pancreatic β cells derived from iPSCs have been recognized as one of the potential sources for cell based therapy as well as disease modeling for diabetes. This makes them a powerful tool in medicine with great promises to have a significant future impact on millions of diabetic patients in the years to come. Indeed, several studies have attempted to produce functional β cells from iPSCs, however, the limited capacity of these cells to produce adequate insulin levels in response to glucose as well as the lack of defined specific factors that are needed for the maturation of pancreatic β cells create a major obstacle to the use of these cells as a tool for in vitro disease modeling and cell therapy. Recent studies showed the ability of normal hiPSCs to differentiate into functional β cells in vitro. In this project, Dr. Abdelalim and his team use patient derived cells (from the blood or skin biopsy of Qatari diabetic patients) and convert them to iPSCs, which have the ability to differentiate into all cell types. Patient specific-hiPSCs are then differentiated into functional pancreatic β cells that will be used as tools to investigate mechanisms and pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of a specific form of T2D. The project also aims to identify defective signaling pathways during pancreatic β cell development, which may shed light on the pathophysiological insights underlying T2D in Qatari population. This would provide an essential platform for disease modeling that can eventually be translated into effective treatment. In this project Dr. Abdelalim collaborates with Prof. Shahrad Taheri from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) and Dr. Prasanna R. Kolatkar from QBRI.

Project 2:
Insulin resistance is a precursor and accelerating factor for T2D. The clinical features of insulin resistance are difficult to be reproduced in animal models. Therefore, there is a need to establish an alternative model to study insulin resistance in the context of other diseases. iPSC technology offers new tools to study complex disorders by generating patient-specific iPSCs. These cells can be differentiated into relevant cells, reflecting the disease phenotype in vitro. This tool can also enable us to study the molecular mechanisms leading to insulin resistance in target cells, which are not yet fully understood. Therefore, in this project Dr. Abdelalim and his team will investigate the relationship between insulin resistance and T2D in a Qatari cohort using iPSC technology. Some forms of T2D are associated with a strong genetic predisposition; therefore, hiPSC lines will be generated from families, suffering from insulin resistance associated with T2D. Those pluripotent cells will be differentiated into different cells, which are relevant to insulin resistance and T2D to study signaling pathways during their differentiation with a particular emphasis on insulin signaling pathway. This project aims to produce several outcomes that will be helpful for ongoing studies in the fields of metabolic disorders. Generation of hiPSCs from insulin-resistant patients will enable us to study signaling pathways underlying the development of insulin resistance in different cells. Also, this model can be used for large-scale screens to examine candidate drugs on insulin-responsive targets. Besides, this project will generate patient-specific cells, which can be used by other researchers to investigate other goals related to insulin resistance and T2D. Thus, this project provides important iPSC-based disease models, which may help for the early diagnosis and personalized therapy for insulin resistance and T2D. In this project Dr. Abdelalim collaborates with Prof. Shahrad Taheri from WCM-Q and Dr. Mohammed Ramzi from Sidra.
Collaborator Name Institute Research Area
Prof. Shahrad Taheri Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) Diabetes/obesity
Dr. Prasanna R. Kolatkar Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) Structural Biology
Dr. Mohamed Ramzi Temanni Sidra Medical and Research Center Bioinformatics
Institution Course Name Role
HBKU (2015-present) Techniques in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular biology Instructor & Co-coordinator
HBKU (2016-present) Seminar course Course Coordinator
Suez Canal University (2011-2013) Stem Cells Course Coordinator & Instructor
Suez Canal University (2011-2013) Cytology Course Coordinator & Instructor
Suez Canal University (2011-2013) Histology Course Coordinator & Instructor

Institution Committee Name Role
HBKU (2016-present) Curriculum Committee Member
HBKU (2015-present) HBKU Life Science Seminar Series Committee Member
QBRI (2014-present) Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Member
QF R & D (2015) Scientific Review Committee (SRC) of Qatar STEAM Fair Member
Name Institution Period
Maryam R. Al-Sulaiti Carnegie Mellon University Qatar May 10th to July 2nd, 2015
Aisha Al Mulla University of Westminster May 10th to July 2nd, 2015
Mohammed El Allam Carnegie Mellon University Qatar May 10th to July 2nd, 2015
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