Asma began her graduate education in 2016 at KAUST as a Master's/Ph.D. student and she is now within the final months of completing her Ph.D. in Bioscience and Molecular Biology. Under the supervision of her mentor Prof. Jasmeen Merzaban, her Ph.D. focuses on topics related to hematopoietic stem cells migration and adhesion using mouse models and primitive human cells isolated from cord blood provided by the Saudi Cord Blood Bank.
Asma's integrative, interdisciplinary study focuses on strategies to improve the efficiency of bone marrow transplants as a treatment for blood diseases. Leukemia is common in Saudi Arabia, and there are limited treatment sources available for the patients. Her work addresses the complex biological issue of how to expand the use of the hematopoietic stem cell to the treatment of leukaemia and other haematological disorders.
Throughout her research, she was able to develop a toolbox of molecular technologies to enhance Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) homing and engraftment. Also, she was able to explain the robust biological technology that permits the in-vitro monitoring of cell rolling activity. Furthermore, I was able to establish datasets of single cell RNA-sequencing for rare human cord blood stem cells. Moreover, her work has shown the value of a rare hematopoietic stem cell, which has been underutilized in clinics around the world. This is because we now have the means to treat these cells, making them a potential new source for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
To further highlight Asma's abilities not only to perform science but also to turn a scientific solution into an accessible product, two worldwide patents have been published as a result of her research. Furthermore, she was awarded the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Middle East Fellowship, 2019 and awarded for BESE Dean’s Award, 2022.
Her experiences in overcoming the challenges of biomedical research during graduate studies at KAUST have given her the tools she needs to succeed in her upcoming future academic career. Her goal is to become a leader in Saudi Arabia's biomedical research community and to contribute to SAUDI VISION 2030 initiative, which aims to improve the quality of Saudi Arabia's preventative and therapeutic health care services via medical research.