United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) has awarded research grants to 37 faculty members for research of national importance.
H. H. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Chancellor of UAEU and Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, said:
“I welcome this action which is consistent with supporting national priorities. Research is at the core of our Nation’s development and I am greatly encouraged to see that these scholars will be able to contribute even more towards this progress through these grants.”
H. E. Dr Abdulla Al Khanbashi, Vice-Chancellor of UAEU, said:
“I congratulate the recipients of these grants and I look forward to being able to continue to recognise the outstanding work of these and other members of our faculty in future.
“UAEU has taken decisive action over the last two years to increase substantially our research contributions in areas of direct relevance to the Nation.
“As we have done this we have significantly improved the global standing both of our research and of our educational programs.
“UAEU will continue to provide research solutions of genuine value to the Nation at the same time as educating and training the nation’s future leaders and problem-solvers.”
The criteria for the grant awarded were in two parts:
1. International competitiveness. The proposed research was required to adhere to the highest global standards of quality. This was judged using the National Research Foundation’s international peer review mechanism. Only those proposals that met or exceeded this standard went to the second stage.
2. National importance. The proposed research was required to be directly relevant to the current needs of individual Emirates and the UAE. A review panel judged this using recent government vision statements as criteria.
The funds for the grants, DHM 12.5 million in total, came from administrative and staffing efficiencies achieved at the university over the past year. This is the highest level of internal grant funding achieved to date at UAEU, and is additional to recent investments of funds to support the creation of the Nation’s first PhD program.
The amounts awarded were in almost all cases significantly less than the researchers had requested, but were judged to be sufficient for work to continue productively while the researchers also pursue additional funding support from sources outside of the University.
NRF project number: RSA-1108-00163
Principle Investigator: Aman Mwafy
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UAEU
NRF project title: Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of the Building Stock in Highly Populated Areas in the UAE
Alternative title: Predicting the Potential Impact of Earthquakes on the Highly Populated Areas in the UAE
Given the large investments in the construction sector and the recent increase of seismic activities, planning for the damage that may hit the highly populated earthquake-prone areas in the UAE should be undertaken in order to mitigate earthquake losses. This research project focuses on developing an essential component for predicting earthquake losses, namely the vulnerability curves of buildings and critical facilities. The multi-story buildings represent concentrated economic and human assets while critical facilities play an important role in the recovery period following an earthquake. A wide range of structures will be selected and designed to represent existing buildings based on the information collected from official surveys and satellite imageries. Inelastic dynamic simulations will be undertaken for the selected buildings under the effect of a wide range of earthquake records that conform to the latest understanding of the UAE seismicity. A realistic statistical model will be used to relate the measured seismic response of buildings to earthquake intensity. This enables the derivation of vulnerability curves for the existing buildings prepared for the immediate incorporation in a loss estimation system for the UAE. This earthquake prediction system is essential for the disaster response planning and formulating risk reduction policies in the UAE. The project opens avenues for interdisciplinary research collaboration and bridges the gap between policy-makers and researchers, aiming at providing more safety and security to the people in the UAE.
RSA Confirmation Number: RSA-1108-00186
PI: Dr. Ashraf Biddah
Institution: UAE University
Department: Civil Engineering
Original Title: Performance of Near Surface Mounted (NSM) Rehabilitation System under Corrosive Environment of UAE
Period: 1 year
Suggested simplified title:
Performance Evaluation of Innovative Composite Systems for Strengthening Concrete Structures in UAE Environment
The harsh environment of the UAE results in major deterioration problems in reinforced concrete structures. Existing rehabilitation methods; section enlargement and steel encasing have unsatisfactory performance under such harsh environment. Innovative durable systems are therefore needed to replace old outdated rehabilitation techniques.
The objective of the proposed research is to investigate the durability performance of advanced composite strengthening systems as innovative engineering solutions that could help the construction sector in the UAE to extend the service life of existing structures in the UAE.
Research outcomes will assist practicing engineers and researchers in obtaining an effective and durable strengthening system and design solution for deficient reinforced concrete structural components in the UAE. Research findings will help in establishing design guidelines and future codes for reinforced concrete structures strengthened with advanced composites.
NRF proposal number RSA‐1108‐00439
Scientific Title: Manipulation of Endoplasmic Reticulum Protein Degradation Machinery for Therapy of Genetic Diseases
PI: Dr. Bassam Ali
Suggested title for the general public: Development of New Treatments for Genetic Conditions
Genetic conditions are the most difficult illnesses to treat because they are caused by inherited changes in our DNA, the molecules that act as the blueprint for making our organs and tissues work well. The main obstacle in the treatment of such conditions is that the DNA changes (called mutations) are present in every single cell of the trillion cells or so found in our bodies. In addition, those changes are found in our cells before we are born and therefore most affected children are born with serious birth defects. Recent research by us and others indicated that the DNA changes that are causing some of those conditions resulted in localizing the protein products to the wrong part of our cells. Therefore, we reasoned that it might be possible to develop new molecules to correct the mis-localization of the proteins and restore their biological functions. It is expected that this correction will have therapeutic effects and improve the care of the affected children. Our proposal will build on our research over the past 10 years in this area of science to develop novel therapies for a number of genetic recessive conditions using novel molecular technologies. Recessive genetic conditions are found with high rates in the UAE and other Arab populations. This is mainly due to the widespread practice of marriages between blood relatives among UAE nationals and other Arab populations. Therefore, our research to develop therapies for these incurable diseases is highly relevant to the United Arab Emirates.
Interplay of cytokines at the level of the target tissue determines
the outcome of Th1/Th17 T1 diabetes
EPK Mensah-Brown et al
Diabetes mellitus is a very important reason for sickness and a cause of high blood pressure and heart attack, two major causes of death in the UAE. Cells which normally protect us, for unknown reasons attack the other cells of the body for example the cells of the pancreas, they are supposed to protect and produce such diseases as diabetes. These disease causing cells do their harm by producing substances called cytokines. Our understanding of how these substances work will influence significantly how rapidly we develop a therapeutic intervention regime against diabetes. The study will employ an experimental model that causes a slow but progressive development of diabetes in mice that would enable the study of how the disease develops and the cytokines the support or inhibit disease development. In this project, we will be examining how two important cytokines, interleukin-17 and interferon gamma work together or against each other to induce or inhibit diabetes development. These cytokines have already been shown to be important in the development of inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system and the large intestines. We now want to test for the first time how this interplay influences diabetes induction on the basis that the basic pathogenesis of chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases could be similar. It is expected that the results will contribute to the design of therapeutic agents that might interrupt the pathways leading to the production of these cytokines and provide powerful inhibition of diabetes progression without the side effects of broad immuno-suppression.
Implantable Glucose Biosensor for Monitoring and Managing Diabetes
Diabetes Mellitus is a major health problem, affecting 20.8 million sufferers in the USA alone according to a survey published in 2001 by the American Diabetes Association. In the UAE, about 19.5 per cent of the population is now living with diabetes, according to statistics released on 2008 by the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre at the Arab Health Congress. One way to monitor blood glucose or tissue fluid glucose concentration is an implantable glucose biosensor, but this approach has many difficulties. In this project, we concentrate on the design and implementation of a glucose implantable biosensor system that is used to precisely detect the level of glucose in the blood without the need for painful finger sticking with lancets.
Dr. Girma Halefom
Department of Linguistics
A corpus of Emirati Arabic
The project aims to construct a database of a large corpus of Emirati Arabic as widely spoken within United Arab Emirates. The database will be based primarily on the spoken language retrieved from broadcasting agents in the region, e. g. TV and radio stations. Other sources such as daily conversations will also be included. The database will be transcribed and annotated by using established, standardized techniques so that the output can be usable in a variety of contexts.
The project will be of essential value to numerous disciplines within and outside the area of linguistic. The first and foremost value for the corpus is to serve as a solid infrastructure for subsequent linguistics research (e.g. corpus-based dictionary, corpus grammar..etc.) and moreover a solid reference on the language in general. In addition, since it has recently been argued that language corpus can be used as a reliable guidance for language teaching, we expect that the corpus of Emirati Arabic can provide useful teaching materials for the study of Emirati Arabic as a foreign ̸ second language. In the area of computational linguistics, the corpus can be applied to numerous fields e.g. data recognition, machine translation, information extraction and Arabic text processing systems, grammar checkers, speech recognition, speech production, text-to-speech and speech-to-text processing, etc. All in all, the construction of a spoken corpus can prove a valuable source for cutting-edge academic research and state-of-the-art applications.
Hesham M. Kamel
Intelligent Systems, Faculty of Information Technology
PASS: Pedestrian Alarm and Security System improving the Mobility of Visually Impaired People
The PASS project aims towards the creation of a handy and simple apparatus which allows physically challenged people of the UAE (as well as elderly and children) the self-confidence and ability to regain their independence for a better life, by enabling them to cross roads safely. The system consists of two types of devices: handheld devices for the pedestrian (DP), and devices installed in cars (DC). The physically challenged use has control over the handheld device. With a single press of a button, he can send a warning signal to drivers, indicating that he wants to cross the street. The card device then alerts the driver indicating that a physically challenged person wants to cross the street and might collide with the vehicle. This will activate an alarm for the driver to pay attention. The event of reception of the signal, together with a timestamp, as well as other relevant information (position, speed) is recorded in a small black-box within the car-based receiver, and can be retrieved by the traffic regulation authority. Furthermore, the pedestrian can receive an indication of the situation of the street he wants to cross, by pressing another button. In this project, multiple state-of-the-art sensing, localization and communication technologies can be used in the realization of the apparatus, such as assisted GOS, WiFi, RFID. It is also worth noticing that the project team consists of highly motivated and experienced researchers coming from celebrated academic backgrounds (Berkeley, MIT, Paris), one of which also has direct experience of physical challenge. The PASS project will not only enable the lives of a considerable percentage of the UAE population to have a better and safer experience in the streets; we also intend for this project to act as a showpiece and a landmark for the country’s interest towards people with special needs, and the accumulated experience and know-how might well be applied to many other related problems as well.
Ismail Ozgur Zembat
Department of Curriculum and Instruction/Faculty of Education/UAEU
This research aims to characterize a knowledge profile for the mathematics teachers currently working in public schools throughout United Arab Emirates. In so doing, the gap between the mathematics teachers’ current knowledge of mathematics and the ideal level for teaching mathematics will be highlighted. It is a commonly accepted notion that mathematics teachers should have a profound understanding of core mathematical ideas to promote student understanding in certain areas of mathematics. Judging whether teachers have such understanding requires having a profile of teacher knowledge so as to characterize the nature of this gap. Therefore, the current study aims to investigate “how in-service mathematics teachers understand and think about fundamental mathematical ideas in major strands (geometry, algebra, measurement, probability and statistics, and numbers)” as well as “the nature of the gap between ‘what teachers know’ and ‘what they should know’ to teach mathematics effectively in schools of United Arab Emirates.” Such a profile of UAE mathematics teachers will be determined through surveys and interviews using the most representative schools of different areas in UAE as the sample. The gathered information will be analyzed through a comparison with expected mathematics teacher knowledge considering research and professional standards set by international and national authorities. The outcomes will be a characterization of the nature of the aforesaid gap and suggestions to close this gap. This study is expected to inform universities in designing and improving their mathematics teacher education programs, researchers in investigating ways to further teacher knowledge, and United Arab Emirates policy makers.
Leila Ismail, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineer
Boosting the UAE Oil Reservoir Production using High Performance Computer Streaming and Cloud Infrastructure
In the Oil industry, it is essential to forecast the reservoir potentials before costly drilling. Oil reservoir simulators, being at the core of improving oil recovery from existing fields, help maximize oil production. Existing simulators suffer from drastic performance drawbacks due to huge numerical operations involved. To cope with the issue, engineers usually reduce the size of the simulation model to get results in an acceptable timeframe, scarifying accuracy of oil quantity. Developing efficient parallel processing simulator using our supercomputer (http://www.hafeet.uaeu.ac.ae/hpgcl/) at the Faculty of IT, UAEU, the largest in the region and among the top countries of the world capable of 11.54 TeraFlops of computing, will solve this issue. Our supercomputer consists of cutting-edge technologies in computer streaming architecture, the Cell IBM BE processor, and the Intel Quad Cores architecture. We will design and develop parallel algorithms for numerical solvers, such as the Conjugate Gradient (CG) method, the Algebraic Multigrid (AMG) solver and its Gauss-Seidel linear solver. We then parallelize the simulator itself. During the design phase, efficient communication strategies among the different processing units, load balancing, and scheduling policies are considered on top of our heterogeneous supercomputer. Generic design issues will be tackled and their solutions will have tremendous implication, not only on petroleum engineering, but also on other disciplines which need badly the parallel computing, such as bioinformatics, weather forecasting, financial market assessment, media processing, image processing, etc.
Keywords: High Performance Computing, Distributed Computing, Cloud Computing, Grid Computing, Oil Reservoir Simulation, Performance.
WITHIN AND BEYOND THE CLASSROOM DOOR:
ASSESSING THE DIMENSIONS OF QUALITY IN EMIRATI KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS
Dr. Mehmet Buldu
This study will examine the quality of kindergarten programs across United Arab Emirates (UAE) and what associations exist among quality of kindergarten programs defined by structural features, process indicators, and compliance with national and international standards. It is anticipated that a total of 100 kindergarten programs, kindergarten teachers and program directors in these programs will participate in this study. Sample of kindergarten programs will be selected from all seven emirates of UAE to maximize diversity with regard to geography, program settings, and educational requirements. Data will be collected via classroom observations, surveys, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Data analyses will be conducted in several stages using SPSS and NVivo programs. First, the researcher will describe the overall picture of quality in Emirati kindergarten programs and will portray the associations that exist among quality of kindergarten programs in UAE, defined by structural and process indicators. Then, he will examine the predictors of process quality in kindergarten programs. Finally, the researcher will compare UAE‘s national kindergarten regulations with global standards of quality of kindergarten programs as described in the literature on ECE program quality. The portrayal of kindergarten quality in UAE and identification of significant predictors of kindergarten quality in UAE will assist policy makers and community stakeholders. It is hoped that the outcomes of this study will contribute to the educational reform efforts by building upon and adding to the lack of knowledge there is regarding the quality of kindergarten programs and quality of children‘s experiences in UAE.
Keywords: Kindergarten, Structural and Process Quality, Standards, Regulations, UAE
Mohamad Mostafa Ahmed Mohamed
Estimation of Groundwater Age in Northeastern Abu Dhabi
Groundwater is the only conventional source of water in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Its share to the total fresh water supply in the Emirate is about 80%. Water is consumed in the domestic, industrial, commercial, agricultural, forestry and amenity sectors. The continuously increasing demand puts more pressure on this already scarce source and threatens its quality. Therefore, to attain security in this vital source, it is essential to estimate replenishment rate of groundwater or water residence time in an aquifer (saturated geological formation). This can be rephrased as “How old is the groundwater?” Groundwater age is defined as the time that has elapsed since the water entered an aquifer and has thus been isolated from the atmosphere. It can vary from days to tens of thousands of years. Groundwater age distribution also reflects the groundwater flow velocity in an aquifer. Understanding of the groundwater flow system (including identification of recharge and discharge areas) is a crucial step to achieve groundwater sustainability. As such, the main aim of this research is to identify recharge regions to the shallow unconfined groundwater aquifer in the northeastern part of Abu-Dhabi Emirate. This is intended to be accomplished through development of groundwater age distribution maps using isotopic techniques. These techniques use the decay of radioactive species such as carbon-14, to obtain ages. So by measuring differences in groundwater carbon-14 in an aquifer, groundwater ages can be calculated. Outcomes of this research will enable better management of the water resources in Abu Dhabi Emirate.
Reduction of harmful emissions through the utilization of bioreactor technology
Expansion of the UAE petroleum and gas industry in recent years has contributed to the emission of considerable amounts of volatile organic compounds such as BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl-benzene and Xylene). Various oil and gas processing activities in the UAE, including flaring, venting as well as the dehydration and sweetening of natural gas usually result in the emission of these pollutants. Other activities such as exploration, production, refining, storage and transportation of petroleum products may also result in the frequent occurrence of these harmful compounds in air, water and soil. These compounds are suspected carcinogens and may lead to numerous health problems including leukemia through prolonged exposure. The estimated ADNOC annual emissions of these pollutants were 84,000 tons in 2004. It is expected that this level of emissions has risen significantly during the past six years.
This project offers a new environmental friendly approach to the treatment of BTEX. This will include the design, evaluation and optimization of a novel biological process for the containment of these harmful compounds. The proposed technology will be effective, economical and can handle different concentration of these compounds.
Muftah H. El-Naas, PhD
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department
P.O. Box 17555, Al-Ain
Tel. (+9713) 713-3637
Fax (+9713) 762-4262
MURAT OZ, Associate Professor, Pharmacology - (FMHS)
The Effects of Endocannabinoids on the Function of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors of the Hippocampal Interneurons
Endocannabinoids are fatty acid-based molecules that bind to cannabinoid receptors and mimic some of the biological effects of cannabinoids. Since the endocannabinoids play important roles in diverse pathological events such as obesity, diabetes, and cognitive disorders, it is important to understand the cellular mechanisms mediating their actions in the nervous system. Using the Xenopus oocyte gene expression system, I have been the first to show that the functions of nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh), serotonin type 3A, and Glycine receptors are directly modulated by the endocannabinoids. However, these initial observations are made mostly in non-neuronal expression systems. Therefore, currently, it is not known if the endocannabinoids can modulate the functions of these ligand-gated ion channels in intact neurons of the mammalian central nervous system. For this purpose, interneurons from the CA1 area of rat hippocampus slices will be visually identified using Differential Interference Contrast optics, and the ACh-evoked current responses mediated mainly by both 7 and 4β2 nACh receptors, which are known to be expressed in these neurons, will be recorded by using the whole-cell patch clamp technique. The responses mediated by these receptors will be pharmacologically isolated and the effects of endocannabinoids will be investigated on the function of these receptors. Following the experiments in the hippocampal slices, the effects of endocannabinoids on the kinetics of 7 and 4β2 nAChRs will be studied in acutely isolated hippocampal neurons. The results of these experiments will provide further insights on how these important lipid mediators act in the brain.
PI: Najah Abu Ali RSA-1108-0055
A Framework for Designing Reliable Body Area Networks for Remote Wellbeing Monitoring
Great interest is currently invested in Wireless Body Area Networks (WBANs) used for remotely monitoring and reporting of users’ health vitals. Composed of various sensors, both wearable and implanted, a WBAN relies on wireless connectivity to transfer the collected data to an Internet-based data management service. Applications span healthcare, sports and industry, and have received attention from various commercial and civilian sectors. A healthcare example is that of remotely monitoring patient’s condition, allowing patients to maintain lifestyles and comfort while offsetting hospital management costs. Such a setup would facilitate giving early warnings to patients with heart or neurological problems, and providing a “heads up” for nearby caregivers. Similar systems can be applied for airplane pilots and long route drivers to alert them to their awareness level. WBANS can also be fitted to workers in harsh environment such as mines to avert serious consequences from physical or chemical strain.
A typical system comprises the following components: 1) a fitted WBAN; 2) a gateway between the WBAN and the Internet, 3) a service for data transfer over the Internet; and 4) a service for data processing, providing interface and alerts to the caregivers. For a successful and reliable operation of the monitoring system, a harmonious set of resources and functionalities need to be simultaneously engaged in all components.
The objective of this project is to address several deployment challenges of WBAN in a holistic and complete manner. Specifically, our aim is to establish and design framework for WBANs utilized in remote monitoring applications. We will seek realizing specific attributes for WBANs such as robustness, sustainability, reliability and adaptability. The framework will be evaluated through several “proof-of-concept” testbeds that showcase design versatility and applicability in different contexts of application.
The Effect of New Street-Lighting Technologies to Improve Pedestrians Safety
Principal Investigator: Dr. Riad Saraiji, Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering, UAEU
Whereas, cities are attempting to become more pedestrian friendly in strive for sustainability, the visibility of pedestrians at night is a crucial element to reduce pedestrian related accidents. Studies have shown that during the night the likelihood of pedestrian related accidents is 7 times greater than during the day. In the UAE, there are many female pedestrians who wear black clothes. This has a direct effect on the ability of drivers to see such pedestrians. Unfortunately pedestrians falsely, assume that drivers can actually see them as a result they unknowingly place themselves in danger.
The use of street-lighting and the type of street light has a direct impact on pedestrian accidents. Advances in Solid State Lighting, or Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are proving to be a promising technology for street lighting applications.
While there have been studies on the effect of various types of light sources on nighttime visibility, there has been no published study on the effect of this new type of light sources (LEDs) on pedestrian visibility. The main objective of the proposed project is to investigate the ability of LED streetlights to improve the visibility of pedestrians under nighttime conditions.
Project Title: Ecology and Conservation of the threatened Socotra Cormorant in the United Arab Emirates
By Sabir Bin Muzaffar, UAEU and Salim Javed, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.
The Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis) is a globally threatened seabird species endemic to the Arabian Gulf region. Socotra Cormorants nest on offshore colonies in their thousands. Currently, almost 33% of the global population breeds on six islands of the Abu Dhabi emirate making these islands globally significant for the conservation of the species. Since the 1970s, 12 colonies of Socotra Cormorants (~26% of the former global population) have collapsed completely. Recent estimates of the populations made by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, suggest that all the populations in the region are declining. Coastal development, disturbance, oil exploitation and fisheries practices are primary threats to the Socotra Cormorant and other seabird populations in the region. Very little data exists on breeding biology and ecology of this species. This study will evaluate the breeding biology and foraging ecology of the species in Umm Qasr Island, Abu Dhabi. This will allow us to determine their rate of reproduction and evaluate the extent of their movements within the Arabian Gulf ecosystem. Socotra Cormorants may die due to accidental by-catch in fishing nets, oil pollution or may experience breeding failure from human presence on islands. This study will quantify these different factors and will help to formulate a science-based conservation plan for Socotra Cormorants (and other seabird species) in the region.
Keywords: Socotra cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, Breeding, Foraging, Conservation, Seabird, Arabian Gulf.
New Title: Treatment of brain diseases by electrical stimulations
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is one of the most promising medical techniques available today to treat incurable brain diseases. In this technique, electrical stimulation with high-frequency electrical current is applied through chronically implanted electric wires (electrodes) in particular areas of the brain. DBS with high frequency electric stimulation of the brain has been used therapeutically in patients who suffer from Parkinson's disease to stop the shaking of the body (tremor) and stiffness of muscles (rigidity), and to reduce the use of medication. DBS has also produced promising results in treating patients with uncontrolled epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorders, headache and neuropathic pain. However, despite the increased usage of DBS its underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood.
In practice, high frequency electric stimulation often mimics the effects of surgical removal of a particular area of the brain. Some researchers have therefore concluded that the principal action of DBS is to deactivate brain tissue. However, the rival hypotheses suggest that electrical stimulation excites the brain tissue and provides direct excitatory input to a subsequent inhibitory region.
In our proposed study, several neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological experiments will be used to evaluate the excitatory or inhibitory effects of DBS.
These experiments will provide important qualitative insights into the possible mechanisms of DBS and quantitative estimates of the area of the brain affected by this treatment. This will, in turn, help to improve and develop new therapeutic strategies for treating an increasing variety of diseases of the brain and the rest of the nervous system.
Strategic Planning Practices in the UAE Public Sector
Said Elbanna (PhD)
Associate Professor of Strategic Management, FBE, UAEU
The practice of strategic planning is said to be important to public organizations through improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness, little work, however, is known about this practice in UAE. This gap in knowledge provides the justification for this research study.
This study, drawing upon the general literature of strategic management, addresses five main questions:
1. What are the elements of strategic planning in the UAE public sector?
2. How do UAE public organizations formulate strategic plans?
3. How are strategic plans implemented by UAE public organizations?
4. How do the UAE public organizations assess their strategic plans?
5. What are the best practices to adopt in the UAE public sector?
This study’s challenge is significant in four ways:
1. It addresses the paucity of empirical evidence on strategic planning in UAE public organizations.
2. It is expected to conclude with important policy implications for strategic planning in the UAE public sector, which increases the ability of strategic planners to formulate and implement better strategic plans in the future.
3. Complying with the UAE government’s vision, it seeks to fill an important gap in our knowledge about the best practices of strategic planning to adopt for governmental organizations in the UAE.
4. Last, it is expected that the outcomes of this study will contribute to serving the UAE community at various levels: educational (e.g. developing case studies at UG/PG levels), governmental (training/consultation) and research (conference presentations/publications). They could be further developed to compose a practical guide for managers of UAE public organizations which contributed to enhancing their awareness and understanding of strategic planning practices.
Title: Novel techniques for analyzing some important gases and clinically relevant compounds
The project aims at evaluating some new approaches to address selected important analytical tasks. The first objective aims at achieving simultaneous analysis of important biomolecules such as glucose, lactic acid, cholesterol, etc. Fast and reliable determination of such compounds is important in the clinical diagnosis and monitoring some health situation. To realize such objective, a series of different enzyme reactors and porous platinum discs will be arranged in such a way that simultaneous determination of several biomolecules can be directly and quickly obtained after introducing small sample volume of a given biological fluid, e.g., blood sample.
The second objective targets developing some gas analyzers which can be used for direct analysis of some selected gases important for industry and environment, e.g., carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The analyzers will be designed and optimized to provide several advantages such as low cost, simple construction, sensitivity of determination as well as portability. The ambitious goal of this objective is to achieve gas analyzer(s) with excellent characteristics to be commercially attractive. The third and last objective is to evaluate a new proposed system to obtain a characteristic finger print of different gases. In addition to the fundamental importance of this concept, it could find applications in the identification of unknown gases (or mixture of gases) as well as semi-quantitative analysis of gas mixtures.
Sayed A.M. Marzouk
Assoc. Prof. of Analytical Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
College of Science
United Arab Emirates University
Al Ain, 17551, UAE
+971 3 7134939
+971 50 7133710
Development of an efficient method for the phytoremediation of crude oil-polluted soils in the UAE using beneficial soil bacteria
Dr. Tarek Youssef- UAE University
Phone: +971-55-4480864 – Fax: +971-3-7671867 – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Domain: Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
The last two decades have witnessed a sharp increase in oil production activities in the UAE, with a parallel burden of contamination of both terrestrial and marine environments. Oil spills on land occurs frequently during extraction, refining, transportation and consumption processes. The major source of oil contamination in the UAE is pipelines leakage.
Mopping out polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the most carcinogenic component of crude oil, is a major challenge due to their persistent nature in soil. Currently, bioremediation and phytoremediation techniques used to remediate contaminants in soils are generally time-consuming and often inefficient in dealing with this class of hydrocarbons. Most of the imported bioremediation products used to remediate hydrocarbon contaminants in soils are not suitable for local environmental conditions. Based on our previous work, land farming followed by phytoremediation was applied successfully to hydrocarbons-contaminated soil of BUHASA– ADCO- Abu Dhabi, UAE, using shallow rooted Bermuda grass and native hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria.
The major aim of the current proposed project is to take this process one step further by enhancing the phytoremediation efficiency through the deployment of native bacteria adapted to the UAE arid environments to relieve the hyper-accumulator plants, used in the phytoremediation process, from environmental stresses. The key element in this system is the deployment of the 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) deaminase-producing bacteria. These bacteria have the ability to alleviate environmental stress endured by plants, by the lowering of the "stress ethylene" which is known to inhibit plant growth.
It is well documented that phytoremediation helps in preventing landscape disturbance during the cleanup process, enhances the activity and diversity of native flora and soil-microflora. Through our proposed procedures, described herein, the hyper-accumulator plants will attain stronger resistance to the consequence of exposure to oil-contaminated soil, and thus improve the efficacy of the phytoremediation process. The application of these bacteria will also reduce the time of remediation of persistent PAHs fraction of the crude oil.
Key words: Hydrocarbons, Phytoremediation, Ethylene, Pollution, Hyper-accumulators.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE MOST SUITABLE DISINFECTION TECHNOLOGIES APPLIED
ON DESALINATED WATER IN THE UAE
• Dr. Walid Elshorbagy (Principal Investigator)
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, UAE University, P.O Box 17555, AlAin, United Arab Emirates, Email: Walid.email@example.com, Phone: +971-50-4485064
• Dr. Mohamed Abdul Kareem (Co-Investigator)
Associate Professor, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department, Director of the University General Requirements and Continued Education Units, UAE University
• Dr. Mohd Saquib (Research Assistant)
Scientist, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India
• Susan Richardson (External Collaborator)
Research Chemist, U.S. EPA, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Athens, GA, USA
Drinking water in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is mostly produced from desalination plants with different technologies. Free chlorination is the sole disinfection technique practiced with all desalination technologies in the UAE. Such technique in the presence of natural organic matter, other organic contaminants, and salts in the feed seawater produces disinfection by-products (DBPs); many of which are not known and need to be identified, especially with the presence of high levels of bromide and iodide in the raw seawater. This project seeks the identification of most suitable disinfection techniques for different desalination technologies practiced in the UAE so that hazardous health impacts associated with any DBPs are eliminated or minimized. The research team includes two professors from the Faculty of Engineering, United Arab Emirate University (UAEU), one professor from India, and one external collaborator professor from USA. The study will be implemented over a period of 3 years and will be supported by UAEU.
KEYWORDS Drinking water, disinfection, byproducts, desalination, UAE.
Walid Ibrahim, Ph.D., Associate Professor
College of Information Technology, UAE University
PO Box 15551 Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Project title: “Novel Algorithms, Models & EDA Tool for Accurate Nano-circuits Reliability Calculation”.
Nanotechnology is expected to be the industrial revolution of the 21st century. New nano-materials and nano-devices will impact all areas of the global economy. In the semiconductor sector, scaling the CMOS devices deep into the nanometer regime will bring further improvements to the performance of future integrated circuits (ICs) by reducing their sizes and power consumption. This will lead to new classes of mobile/portable applications that include wireless sensor networks, wearable equipment, implantable gadgets, etc. However, this massive scaling of CMOS devices will introduce severe static and dynamic parameter fluctuations at all material, device and circuit levels. These parameter variations could dramatically increase the complexity of future ICs manufacturing and will inevitably lead to more defects. At the same time, the devices’ tiny sizes will make them highly susceptible to transient failures.
Therefore, there is currently a clear message coming from the semiconductor industry that design-for-reliability needs help. EDA tools and algorithms for reliability evaluation are urgently needed to assist designers while evaluating the reliability of their designs. The aim of this research proposal is to provide the education/research institutions as well as the semiconductor industry at large with both accurate models and efficient algorithms for reliability calculations. It will also integrate these into a user-friendly EDA tool that will enable quick and realistic evaluation of the reliability of future nano-circuits. The proposed EDA tool will allow designers to evaluate and compare the reliability of different nano-architectures and select the best one which satisfies the conflicting area-speed-power and reliability requirements.
Project Title: Nanofibrous Scaffolds For Stem Cell Transplantation
PI: Dr. Yaser E. Greish
Damages of the wall of the stomach by erosions or ulcers are common health problems in UAE. With age, these damaging diseases may transform into stomach cancer which is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Stem cell transplantation is a recently evolving method of therapy which has been tried and found promising for similar diseases in other organs, e.g. the skin, eye and heart. The stomach stem cells are normally few and difficult to isolate. Recently, we have isolated an immortalized population of adult stem cells from the stomach of a genetically engineered mouse model and have defined genes specific for these cells. In this project, stomach stem cells will be seeded into soft tissue-like nanofibrous scaffolds made of a biocompatible material. These scaffolds will be engineered in our laboratory and will be fully characterized for their compositional, morphological, thermal and mechanical properties prior to seeding with the stem cells. Survival, growth and differentiation of the stomach stem cells in these nanofibrous scaffolds will be evaluated. The expected outcome of the project is to provide the basis for a new therapeutic modality that will help in replacing eroded or ulcerated stomach tissue with these stem cell-nanofibrous assemblies.
Department of Architectural Engineering
Mapping Dubai: Towards an understanding of urban form and social structure
The study seeks to identify the relationship between Dubai’s urban form and the extent to which it facilitates human interaction. Given the city’s rapid growth, and the inevitable criticism which has accompanied this, there is an urgent need for studying its urban form in a systematic manner that would allow for a more thorough understanding of the city’s urban spaces. This study will achieve this through the use of a mapping project and relating this to its social structure. This methodology aims at capturing the flavor and dynamics of the city of Dubai. To that effect various innovative techniques involving photography (still and time-lapse), ethnographic mapping, and video will be used. The overall outcome will be an urban portrait of select areas within Dubai, which navigates between the macro and the micro level. Moreover, the study moves from a strictly documentary perspective to one that involves and captures the subjective perceptions of city dwellers as they move through the urban environment. Various modes for a graphic representation of space will be used for this purpose. The main outcome will be a series of digitized maps coded according to a set of indicators. This cartography of Dubai will form a narrative atlas that addresses the need for a better understanding on how city residents navigate through the city’s spaces and the degree to which their everyday experience could be enhanced. This would be of benefit for issues pertaining to livability and social sustainability in rapidly urbanizing centers all over the world. It is also envisioned that this will form the seed for an urban modeling laboratory at UAE University, allowing for the study of other urban centers in the region.
Project Title: Integrated Multi-Modal Transportation Planning Models and Solution Techniques
Principal Investigator (PI) Information:
Dr. Younes Hamdouch, United Arab Emirates University
Current practice in urban transportation planning and traffic congestion reduction often relies on results from mathematical models to forecast the effects of prospective changes or policies on the system. In many instances, these models address each mode of transportation separately. Although doing so ignores the synergistic effect between different modes and generally produces inconsistent results, such practice is often born out of necessity. Integrating the different modes together would result in a model that is often too complex, large, and time-consuming to solve or obtain a solution for analysis or planning in a timely manner. This is particularly true when applied to large urban transportation systems.
The main objective of this research is to develop models and methods for reducing traffic congestion in a network that integrates multiple modes of transportation (automobiles, buses, metro, …) into an urban transportation system. Although integrated transportation models would be extremely large, advances in optimization techniques makes solving such large models possible. Our plan is to demonstrate the viability of this approach by solving the optimization models for the major cities in the UAE. Results from our research should lead to tools useful for, e.g., the following:
1. Determining congestion tolls that are appealing to both the public and responsible governmental agencies.
2. Predicting impact on urban traffic flows and usage of public transportation.
3. Providing information useful in using toll revenue from the automobile users to improve transit systems, construct new highways or expand existing roads.
NRF Confirmation #: RSA-1109-00168
Title: Capture of carbon dioxide by carbonation of Emirate steel slag
PI’s Name: Abdel-Mohsen O. Mohamed
Increased public awareness of the threats posed by global warming has led to greater concern over the impact of anthropogenic carbon emissions on the global climate. To comply with the Kyoto Protocol, technologies for CO2 capture and permanent safe storage are urgently needed. Mineral carbonation is one of those technologies, which is known to be stable over time.
This study will focus on the development of a new carbonation process technology for Emirates steel slag and ground granulated blast furnace slag to form simple, reliable, cost efficient operation process units. The study consists of experimental work, thermo-dynamical modeling and process simulations. Thermodynamics will be used to optimize the carbonation conditions and both experimental and theoretical investigations will be used to evaluate the carbonation efficiency. The treated materials could then be used in civil engineering work and as a raw material in the production of Portland cement.
Research Project Description:
1. What major research challenge(s) will the project address?
The aim of this proposal is to improve the fundamental understanding of the mineral carbonation reactions occurring during the sequestration of CO2 by steel slag and ground granulated blast furnace slag. More specifically, to elucidate the important physical, chemical, and transport processes controlling the rate and degree of carbonation achievable in the waste. A series of experimental studies will be conducted to: (1) demonstrate the feasibility of mineral carbonation in steel slag (SS) and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) at different temperatures, flow rates, exposure periods, pressures and sample doses; (2) measure the rate and extent of sequestration under ideal (static, unlimited CO2 supply) conditions; and (3) assess the importance of particle size and gas-solid contact mechanism on sequestration performance under dynamic (gas flowing) conditions.
The outcome of this research project will be a technology for the treatment of steel slag solid wastes and carbon storage in solid form that can be utilized in useful applications. The results will be disseminated through: (1) training of undergraduate and graduate students; (2) training of researchers; (3) presentations in local, regional , international conferences; (4) organization of specialized workshops; (5) publications in refereed international journals; (6) partnership agreements with local industries; and (7) formation of spin-off companies.
The project will be continued through the formation of spin-off companies for pilot plant implementation and marketability of the produced products. This will involve various studies such as feasibility, economic, risk analysis, market, and engineering. In doing so, staff will be hired and trained for execution of these anticipated studies.
2. Why is this research challenge significant?
To identify the benefit use of the proposed research project to the UAE society, one needs to look into the problem from different viewpoints, which are:
1. Increased public awareness of the threats posed by global warming has led to greater concern over the impact of anthropogenic carbon emissions on the global climate.
2. consume the large amounts of release waste products of steel slag and ground granulated blast furnace slag solid wastes and carbon dioxide produced from steel manufacturing industry in the United Arab Emirates; and reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal operations, and recycle these waste materials for re-use in many industrial productions.
3. Fixation of carbon dioxide produced from oil industry in the UAE as insoluble carbonates.
4. The UAE is ranked 2nd in the world in terms of CO2 emissions per capita, Hence, there is an urgent need for a balanced carbon-management strategy for the country. Such strategy should contain a portfolio of technologies, including the development of emission-free energy sources and the capture of CO2 using a variety of reliable carbon sequestration technologies.
The preceding highlights the need for developments of technologies that would contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission, treatment of steel slag and ground granulated blast furnace slag solid wastes, and carbon storage. The treatment materials could then be used in civil engineering work, and utilization as a raw material in the production of Portland cement, considering that UAE imports 30% of the needed Portland cement. Also, reduction of carbon dioxide emission and storing carbon in mineral carbonates enhance the UAE commitments to Kyoto Protocol.
Exploring the effects of past climate change in the UAE through use of natural radioactive isotopes in sediments
By Ala Aldahan and Ayman ElSaiy
Climate, which is the averaged weather data over a period of 30-50 years, has a profound effect on the development of landscape and human living conditions in the past, present day and in the future. Data on past climate change are either obtained through direct measurements or through indirect (proxy) records such as sediments. With the growing interest in understanding the pathway of climate change in the future and its effects on the UAE environment, knowledge about climate-environmental changes in the past is becoming indispensable. Investigating effects of climate changes in the past will allow drafting a when and how the UAE landscape (wadies, sand dunes, sabhkas), water resources and human adopted to the changes. The information will be unique not only for the UAE, but also for the Middle East region, and for providing link to the global past climate data base. We shall mainly use two naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, carbon-14 and Be-10, in the sediments of the so called “Quaternary Era” that exist as fluvial and sand dunes in the UAE. Together with data on mineralogical and geochemical, these isotopes will provide unique chronologic tools for past time (present to 3 million year ago) and effects resulting from climate change (excessive drought, precipitation and groundwater) in the UAE. The study will also provide new information about time sequence of archaeological finds and heritage during the Paleolithic period and beyond, which will tremendously enhance linking human and other species transmigration between Africa and Eurasia.
Inactivation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells as a novel target for enhancing anti-cancer immunity
Basel al-Ramadi, PhD FRCPath
Professor & Chair
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
Cancer is a chronic disease that continues to claim lives worldwide. Despite their occurrence at relatively similar frequencies to Western countries, several types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal and lung, tend to present at an earlier age in the UAE. Therefore, research aimed at increasing our understanding of cancer cell growth and metastasis is highly relevant for this region of the world. This proposal is focused on studying the properties of one type of white blood cells, known as immature myeloid cells, whose numbers increase dramatically in cancer patients. The increase is seen not only in blood and bone marrow of cancer patients, but also within the tumor tissue itself. It is believed that these myeloid cells play an important role within the tumor tissue by inhibiting the activity of other immune system cells which are supposed to fight against cancer growth. The immature myeloid cells, therefore, are said to have an immunosuppressive role and allow the cancer cells to grow unimpeded by the host’s immune system. In this proposal, we wish to study these cells in an experimental animal tumor model and develop a novel strategy to functionally inactivate these cells. This will in turn lead to an enhancement of the host’s anti-tumor immunity and elimination of tumors.
KILANI GHOUDI, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Statistics
College of Business and economics, United Arab Emirates University
P.O. Box 17555 Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
phone : +971 3 713 3355
fax : +971 3 763 2383
web page: http://faculty.uaeu.ac.ae/kghoudi
Most financial studies carried out involve some kind of regression / time series modeling. Checking adequacy of the proposed model is almost a must in any given research. The aim of the present proposal is to develop model checking techniques that apply to a wide range of financial/economic models.
Models used in economics and financial applications assume some conditions about the error distributions (like the errors are independent and have identical distributions). The aim here is to develop tests for goodness-of-fit of the error distribution and tests of randomness/independence. The difficulty comes from the fact that the errors are non-observable and one has to rely on the residuals (which are estimated quantities) to develop such tests. Since most goodness-of-fit and independence tests can be written as functional of the (sequential) empirical distribution, the project focuses on the study of the behavior of the (sequential) empirical process constructed form residuals. The asymptotic behavior of such process yields the limiting distribution of most commonly used test statistics.
In general the limits obtained for the residual empirical processes are quite complex and can not be used directly to produce critical values and p-values for the test statistics. For this reason, the second part of the project consists in developing techniques for approximating the asymptotic and/or the finite sample behavior in a way that a practitioner can use. This is achieved by either adapting a resampling technique like the parametric bootstrap or finding transformations of the residuals that make the asymptotic more tractable.
Identification of Disease Genes of Recessive Disorders Prevalent in UAE: A startup funding for a “Center of Excellence in Genetics Research” at UAEU
Principal Investigator: Prof. Lihadh Al-Gazali (FMHS); Co-PI: Dr Bassam Ali (FMHS)
Inherited conditions are a major health concern for the UAE. According to the Ministry of Health, genetic conditions are the 4th cause of death in the country. In addition, the UAE is 6th in the world in terms of birth defects rates with nearly one in fifteen children are born with some form of physical or mental disability. Furthermore, more than 270 different genetic conditions have been reported among the UAE nationals. The high rates of genetic conditions in the UAE are mainly due to the high rates of marriages within families. In order to reduce those rates we need to establish the exact causes of those conditions and offer accurate diagnosis and implement effective preventative programmes. Therefore it is essential to carry out research on families affected with genetic conditions to identify the exact defective genes, the units in our DNA that make our bodies work properly. Over the past twenty years we have been active in this area and identified the causes of over 15 inherited conditions. However, a lot more work is needed if we were to achieve significant reduction in new cases. This proposal aims to establish a local infrastructure for the identification of genetic defects in affected families. This infrastructure should form the basis for the establishment of a center of excellence for genetic research to serve the UAE nation. The center will provide research and diagnosis services for genetic conditions. In addition, the center will provide training for young Emiratis on the latest technologies in this area of science.
Original title: The mechanisms of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) induced modulation of brain plasticity in health and disease
Revised lay title: What are the optimal Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) parameters in stroke and chronic pain therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) uses rapidly changing magnetic field to induce activation in specific or general parts of the human brain with minimal discomfort. Furthermore, a variant of TMS, called repetitive TMS (rTMS), in which more than one stimulus is applied in one second, has proved as effective treatment tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders. However, the effects of rTMS are variable and depend on a number of TMS parameters, (intensity, frequency, total number of stimuli, etc) and their combinations. Furthermore, the effectiveness of rTMS may also be critically influenced by the nature of the underlying pathological processes. To be able to improve therapeutic outcomes of rTMS we need to better understand the basic mechanisms of rTMS action on diseased brain. This can only be achieved by conducting animal studies on appropriate animal models. In this project we will examine molecular and cellular mechanisms of rTMS effects in carefully designed pain and stroke animal models. We will examine how various rTMS parameters and the duration of its application influences expression of specific genes and related proteins in the diseased brain. This will allow us to improve the understanding of molecular mechanisms of rTMS action and enable refinement of current therapeutic rTMS protocols and development of new ones. It will also improve overall knowledge of bvasic processes associated with these lesions and help better characterize natural-compensatory brain response to these injuries.
Mohammed Abdel.monem M. Aly
Professor, Aridland Agriculture, Faculty of Food & Agriculture
Title: Genomic Tool Development and Full Genome Sequencing of Date Palm Variety Nagal
Suggested simple title (s):
1- Analysis of the UAE Date Palm Genetic Composition.
2- Analysis of the UAE Date Palm Hereditary material.
3- Modern Tools to Discover (Explore) the Nature of Genes making the UAE Date Palm.
4- Utilizing Modern Technologies to Reveal How the UAE Date Palm Genes Work.
Date palm is one of the most important plants in UAE and the arid and semi-arid lands that support the stability of the desert ecosystem. The project suggests a study of UAE date palm DNA structure, discovery of genes coding for salinity and drought tolerance, yield, quality and pest stresses and other economically important characteristics. Such genes can be used in improvement programs of UAE varieties, and to confirm the characteristics of the varieties believed to be unique to UAE. The project's significance is that it will establish UAE as a leader in agricultural biotechnology and will create unique opportunities for date palm improvement in UAE. The approach is: 1) Analyze the DNA fine composition in several UAE date palm varieties, with emphasis on variety Nagal, 2) Identify the genetic diversity in UAE date palms, 3) Characterize date palm genes structures, 4) Correlate specific characters with specific DNA segments, and 5) Assess the relationships amongst UAE varieties. Furthermore, UAE researchers and graduate students will acquire first hand training and experiences in the rapidly advancing fields of genetics and biology, especially with a crop highly related to the UAE environment. These experiences can be applied to improve date palm as well as other agriculturally important organisms.
Freshwater Storage and Recovery in Saline Aquifers
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
Faculty of Engineering, UAE University
UAE is an arid country with limited renewable freshwater resources and harsh climatic conditions. The lack of freshwater resources in UAE constitutes the major constraint against its prosperity and sustainable development. Groundwater resources, although non-renewable, contribute by more than 50% of the total water demand in the country. In response to the national needs, the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA), in collaboration with other concerned authorities, have initiated pilot scale projects to artificially recharge the depleted aquifers using desalinated water and create strategic reserves of freshwater resources to meet domestic demands during emergency times.
The main objective of this project is to examine the feasibly, and improve the efficiency, of freshwater storage and recovery in available saline or brackish aquifers. Desalinated water is produced at a constant rate throughout the year. However, water demands vary not only during different sessions and from one month to another but also during the different hours of the day. The excess of desalinated water can be stored above, or within, the saline/brackish water bodies and then recovered at a later time. The project will examine the feasibility of recharge through surface basins and injection wells.
The results of the project will provide a comprehensive understanding of freshwater storage in saline/ brackish aquifers and will significantly advance the science in the area of groundwater development and augmentation. The results will help UAE decision makers, in the area of water resources management, to take proper decisions and actions to sustain the water resources and ensure their availability for the future generation.
Tahir A. Rizvi, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Virology
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
United Arab Emirates University
Tel: +971-3-713-7514 (Office); +971-3-713-7627 (Lab)
Co-packaging and recombination among genetically distinct retroviruses: Implications for the development of retroviral vectors for gene therapy
The arrival of genetic engineering has heralded the possibility of using gene therapy for the cure of innumerable human diseases into the dominion of reality. Retroviruses have the unique ability to integrate the gene of interest into the host DNA providing long-term gene expression making retroviral vectors valuable tools for approximately a quarter of all human gene therapy trials. Currently, several retroviral vectors such as based on Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are being exploited, however, their use in humans is not very promising due to critical safety concerns such as exchange of genetic information with related human endogenous retroviruses resulting in recombinant variants with unknown pathogenic potential. Consequently, our laboratory has been interested in the development, safety, and efficacy of mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) based retroviral vectors. Unlike other retroviruses, MMTV is distantly related to human and other primate retroviruses (HIV/SIV), thus, minimizing the chances of recombination with related retroviruses. In addition, MMTV promoters are hormone inducible in a tissue specific manner making MMTV a valuable tool for targeted and inducible gene therapy. However, we have recently shown that MMTV and a primate retrovirus (Mason-Pfizer monkey virus, MPMV) particles were able to incorporate each other’s RNA genome raising further safety concerns. The studies outlined in this proposal aims to study the relative ability of MMTV to co-exist and recombine its RNA genome with primate and non-primate lentiviruses (HIV-1, MPMV and FIV). Knowledge gained from these studies will be crucial for the development of safe and efficient gene transfer systems for human gene therapy that can correct genetic disorders caused by the mutation and/or deletion of a gene. Thus, versatile gene transfer systems for human gene therapy should be an invaluable resource for the UAE community and should provide an alternate and effective means of treating a variety of human disorders.
RSA-1108-00378 - Thomas E. Adrian
Project Title: Resolvins and Protectins in Cancer
In spite of advances in cancer therapy in recent years, new therapeutic agents are desperately needed. Over the past ten yours, my group have been investigating the role of inflammatory enzymes (called 5- and 12-lipoxygenases) cancers. These enzymes are involved in the development and growth of pancreatic, colonic and breast cancers, but are not detected in the normal cells of these tissues. Inhibitors of these enzymes, or the downstream receptors for their products, inhibit cancer growth and invasion. Our work has led to the development of some novel therapeutic agents, one of which is currently in clinical trials for cancer treatment.
Recently, we demonstrated that another enzyme (15-lipoxygenase) has protective effects in cancer. 15-lipoxygenase produces anti-inflammatory lipoxins and resolvins. We have preliminary evidence that these anti-inflammatory lipids can block cancer growth and invasion. At present, there are no documented studies on any aspect of lipoxins and resolvins and cancer.
In this project, we will investigate the anti-cancer effects of resolvins and lipoxins and identify how they are working. We will study their effects on growth, induction of apoptosis (cancer cell suicide), as well as prevention of invasion into other tissues and angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation that provides nutrients for tumor growth). Other experiments will determine precisely how these agents can be used to treat cancer patients.
If these anti-inflammatory lipids have the anticipated effects in cancer, then it is highly likely that this work will lead to development of novel drugs for therapy or prevention of cancer.
Faculty of Information Technology
BRAIN-INSPIRED INTERCONNECTS FOR NANOELECTRONICS
This project aims to investigate connectivity solutions for future nanoelectronic systems. Interconnects will be a major factor determining the cost, delay, power, reliability and turn-around time of semiconductor products of the future. This research will set out to address the key limiters of scalability and provide a means of increasing the numbers of gates on an integrated circuit to biologically plausible levels. The work will focus on the development of low-power scalable and reliable on-chip interconnections needed for future Tera-scale (i.e., having 10^12 devices) systems looking at:
- brain-inspired interconnection topologies (top level);
- biologically-inspired communication technologies (bottom level).
The potential of biologically-inspired architectures is acknowledged even by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (http://www.itrs.net/). The significance of brain-inspired connectivity comes from the fact that mammalian brain is one of the most efficient and remarkably robust network of processing elements currently know to mankind: on the order of 10^10 processing elements and 10^14 connections which dissipate only around 20W. One reason that scalability is so important is that much of the brain’s computing power comes from its massive parallelism.
The outcome of this research would be the design of enabling interconnection schemes for on-chip communication, circuits, design methods and also tools that are attractive for both industrial exploitation and further academic research. These will have immediate implications for:
- the design of networks-on-chip in general;
- the burgeoning field of multi/many-core processors in particular (in the short term);
- forward-looking investigations on emerging nano-architectures (in the long term).
Cellular Mechanics and Signaling Nanoprobes for Quantifying Therapeutic Interventions
PI: Yousef Haik, Email: email@example.com
United Arab Emirates University
Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the United Arab Emirates following cardiovascular diseases and accidents. Data from the Ministry of Health account for 1200 new cancer cases in 2007, 17.5% of which were for breast cancer. Females from Arab nationals, including those from UAE tend develop breast cancer a decade earlier than their counterpart in the Western countries.
Breast cancer cells initiate from single cells and proliferate at abnormally high rates, it is their metastatic potential which renders them so life-threatening. Metastasis is the process by which breast cancer cells spread from breast tissue to some other site within the body and is described by four phases:
hyper-proliferation of normal cells, cellular depolarization, cell migration to the ductal basement membrane, and cellular invasion of the basement membrane. Basement membrane invasion is then followed by further cell migration to and invasion of surrounding blood and lymphatic vessels, which transport the cancer to other tissues. Given that manifestation of this process is a key predictor of breast cancer survival rate, understanding which factors influence breast cancer metastasis is particularly important, as they will critically impact the design and development of appropriate treatments. While a number of recent efforts have developed therapies for cancer management, a fundamental understanding of how certain cancers become resistant to chemotherapies remains elusive. The role of altered subcellular structural and micro-mechanical properties, which may hold vital clues to therapy resistance, has never been investigated.
Hyperthermia is a heat treatment approach in cancer therapy justified by the cancerous cells
vulnerability to high temperatures. The viability of the cancerous cells is reduced and their sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation is increased by raising the temperature of the target tissue to 42- 46°C.
Cancer cells chemoresistance is reduced by an order of four times compared to unheated cells. The chemoresistance is measured by the drug dose needed for complete destruction of cancer tissue. Using a suite of well-established and well characterized cancer cell lines, that mimic various stages of cancers prevalent in UAE, we will probe chemoresistance through implantation of nanoprobes. The outcome of this comprehensive and novel study will be a uniquely detailed understanding of the input-output relations in high incidence cancers of the UAE that make them more responsive at higher temperatures.
The rationale for this study is that understanding cell signaling, mechanical and biochemical
properties of cancer cells during combined therapeutic interventions are necessary to establish parameters to optimize the therapeutic efficacy. Based on our preliminary studies, we propose the following specific aims for this project:
1. Quantify the induced changes in cellular mechanical properties in two-dimensional and threedimensional breast cancer cell cultures using sub-cellular nanoparticles when the cells are exposed to dual therapies. Mechanical properties of cells allow them to navigate through complex extracellular structures.
The changes in mechanical properties during exposure to dual therapies have never been investigated.
2. Quantify the individual and collective effect of matrix stiffness, porosity and composition on mechanical properties and migration ability of tumor cells in two and three-dimensional matrices when exposed to dual therapies. This aim will focus on developing a systems level understanding of tumor invasion and how dual therapies affect the ability of cells to navigated complex basement membrane.
Key Phrases: Hyperthermia, Nanoprobes, Cell signaling, Mechanical properties of cells, Breast cancer
Benefit to UAE Public Health: Cancer remains the third leading cause for death among UAE nationals. Combined therapies and interventions are becoming more recognized. The current proposal provides, if successful, an answer to what makes cancer cells less resistance to chemotherapy.