A research project into an accessible way to make recombinant proteins won the top prize at Meeting of the Minds 2023. The annual research symposium showcases student work at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner university. The project was conducted by Martin Minenhle Sikhondze, a graduating student at CMU-Q, with faculty advisors Ihab Younis, Mazen Sidani, and Ravichandra Bachu.
Recombinant proteins are used in a number of therapeutic applications, including the treatment of diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases, hemophilia, and anemia. Sikhondze’s research could make producing these proteins more accessible for developing countries with limited resources for health care.
Michael Trick, dean of CMU-Q, said: “At Carnegie Mellon, our mission is to investigate questions that will have a real impact on the world. Martin, and all of our award winners and presenters, have done exactly this with their research projects. We are exceptionally proud of them.”
Sikhondze commented on the project after the award was announced. “I feel amazing and surprised but it is nice to be recognized for the work I put into this project,” he said. “I aim to eventually move on to graduate school where I plan to better learn how to harness genome editing technologies to treat patients in a more global context.”
Winning the most promising research award was a project that explores how knowledge, beliefs and willingness to change behavior for climate change differ across genders. The authors of the poster were Rafay Ur Rehman Khan and Uzair Ahmed, and the faculty advisors were Jennifer Bruder and Taeyong Park.
The event was supported by the Planning and Statistics Authority, who provided special awards to the posters best representing Qatar Vision 2030, which covers the four pillars of human development, social development, economic development, and environmental development. The Planning and Statistics Authority has been a strong supporter of Meeting of the Minds for many years.
The event prizes were sponsored by Masraf Al Rayan bank, including cash prizes for all six of the winners. As top prize winner, Sikhondze received 15,000 QAR from Masraf Al Rayan bank. Masraf Al Rayan has been serving the Qatar community for more than 16 years. The bank is renowned for its strong focus on social responsibility, supporting numerous initiatives aimed at promoting education, health, and the environment in Qatar.
This was the largest Meeting of the Minds symposium held in campus history, with 51 posters submitted by students and researchers.
Judges included Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar faculty members, as well as representatives from organizations around Qatar: Georgetown University in Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Mada Assistive Technology Center Qatar, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), Qatar University, Sidra Medicine, TASMU, Texas A&M University at Qatar, University of Doha for Science and Technology, VCUarts Qatar, Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar (WCM-Q), and World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).
The full list of winners is available on CMU-Q’s website.