CMU-Q alums at Sidra

Carnegie Mellon grads explore emerging fields at Sidra

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

“I was very involved with the tech community in Qatar,” says 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 a unique opportunity arose. Sidra Medical and Research Center (Sidra), the 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.”

While technology is advancing quickly in some areas of the medical sector, Sidra is one of the few hospitals in the world that has an in-house innovation lab. The Center for Medical Imaging Science and Technology (CMIST) at Sidra serves a clinical support role, as well as creating innovative tools like printing of 3D radiological scans to help surgeons visualize the 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,” continued Kaura. “Patient experience is a key aspect of the work we do.

The high-tech world of laboratory medicine

Sidra is also using technology-enhanced patient care within more traditional departments of the hospital. This approach is creating unique opportunities for another set of CMU-Q graduates: those who studied biological sciences.

All hospital laboratories require precision and a solid understanding of the basic sciences. At the Sidra lab, however, technologists are using state-of-the-art equipment to perform tests that, just a few years ago, were not possible or prohibitively expensive.

As Sidra prepares to open the in-patient portion of the hospital in early 2018, the laboratory must complete intensive validation processes to ensure the equipment is producing valid and reliable results.

Aya Abd Elaal, a graduate from the Class of 2016, works in the Clinical Chemistry Division of the Sidra lab. “We’re building something new, not many people have had a chance to build a lab from the ground up.”

Biological sciences graduates 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 has been excellent preparation 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,” says Jason Ford, vice chair, 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.”

Careers at the cutting edge of medical science

For the alumni of CMU-Q, Sidra offers the opportunity to pursue careers in medical technology that are not possible in most parts of the world. Hasan Al Mana, who graduated with his degree in biological sciences in 2015, works in the Molecular Microbiology Division and will begin 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.”

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.

“The CMU-Q grads have their scientific foundation,” says Ford. “At Sidra, they receive specialized training in pediatric and laboratory medicine, and we hope they will build careers in this area. 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.”