The 2nd Awards Term
Change Term:
2001-2002
The topics of the 2nd term, 2001-2002 were selected to be for Grand Hamdan International Award - Obstetrics & Gynecology, and for Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Gene Therapy of Inherited Disorders, Pathogenesis and Therapy of Autoimmune Disorders, Apoptosis in Disease & Health.

Topics

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Infertility is probably the single most common ailment to afflict men and women of reproductive age.  It has been estimated that the level of infertility in the community is probably one out of every 7 couples of reproductive age. Infertility is a major public health problem. Data from the United States show that it affects 7.1 percent, or 2.1 million married couples. The same data show that 6.2 million women aged 15-44 have some degree of impaired fecundity; of these 2.7 million have sought medical help.
Categorizing human infertility is not an exact science, but it is generally attributed to many factors. In many cases, however, treatment is empirical. In recent years, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have rapidly expanded the possibilities of infertility treatment, but many questions remain, not the least of which is the inherent potential to transmit chromosomal aberrations that in themselves may have been responsible for fertility failure.
This award is designed to recognize the contributions of scientists who have pioneered research, in the basic science or clinical research, on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of infertility.

Gene Therapy of Inherited Disorders

The discovery of restriction enzymes that splice DNA at specific sequences enabled researchers to cut, remove and join genes together, and to start understanding the important roles that genetic factors play in disease.  Currently, the Human Genome Project nears completion, providing new links between particular genes and diseases.  Originally known as 'genetic replacement therapy' during the early 1980s, 'gene therapy' has now outgrown its original definition and is applied to all manner of protocols that involve an element of gene transfer, either in vivo or ex vivo.  The development of serious and distressing inherited genetic diseases could be prevented before birth and eliminated in subsequent generations. Gene therapy offers much hope for the future treatment of a variety of clinical conditions.

Pathogenesis and Therapy of Autoimmune Disorders

The body has devised ways, collectively called immunological tolerance, of avoiding immune responses against itself.  Autoimmunity is an immune response against components of self and therefore is a failure of tolerance.  Autoimmune diseases are those in which either antibodies or T lymphocytes reactive against auto antigens are involved in their pathogenesis.  The aim of the treatment of autoimmune disease is to suppress the inappropriate autoimmune responses.  Non-specific immunosuppressive therapy, however, compromises the patient’s defence against infections.  Efforts are therefore being made to develop more specific methods.  The understanding of pathogenesis and the development of new therapies for autoimmune disorders are of great importance for a broad range of human diseases affecting a large number of patients in developed and developing countries.

Apoptosis in Disease & Health

Apoptosis is programmed cell death.  An organism uses cell death in a very positive way to sculpt its development; to arrange for rapid expansion and subsequent contraction of a cell population, and to defend itself by destroying cells that are infected or attacked.  To do so, cells and organisms constantly monitor signals given and received by cells. An incorrect or confused response means cell death or the survival of an abnormal cell.  This high security surveillance is a wise choice, for the goal of the attacker may be to preserve the cell it is attacking and to use the cell for its own purposes. The bulk of research into apoptosis has looked at death and survival signals. Many of these fit a pattern in which infectious pathological agents or potentially malignant cells attempt to stave off death (anti-apoptotic genes) while the organism tries to spot these dangers and invokes cell suicide (pro-apoptotic genes). Occasionally these battles, as in any war, affect civilian territory, and, for example, in AIDS and autoimmune diseases, bystander cells die. A highly complex signaling mechanism is used to generate a subtle distinction between a growth response and a death response.  Thus knowledge about apoptosis is very important in cancer, brain cell death, infections and many other conditions affecting humans.


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