Ahmed Elhossiny, a native of Cairo, Egypt, knew exactly what he wanted to do after graduating from pharmacy school at Ain Shams University in Cairo.
He was inspired by how scientists can initiate the therapeutics development process by studying the genomic origins of different diseases.
“Therefore, I decided to pursue a research career in this field to fulfill my passion,” he says.
Elhossiny was awarded a Fulbright grant and earned a master’s degree in genetics, genomics and bioinformatics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
He is now a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan in the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics.
Elhossiny’s current research focus is multimodal data integration to understand pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma pathogenesis.
He says he was attracted to Buffalo because he “found that the collaborative nurturing environment at UB made it the perfect place to start my academic journey and being an international friendly place made it a suitable choice in which to spend two years.”
(Elhossiny notes that world-famous Buffalo Wings and living near Niagara Falls played a role in attracting him as well!)
His master’s thesis focused on investigating “the species-specific regulation of oligodendrocytes precursor cells homeostasis.”
“In other words, I was studying genomic differences between humans and mice that govern the growth of a specific cell type in the brain (called oligodendrocyte precursor cells) that are responsible for forming an insulation layer (called myelin) around the neurons,” Elhossiny says.
Usually, those cells get damaged in demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
“Understanding this would help us build better animal models for demyelinating diseases which can be used to test the efficacy of new drugs in a manner that reflects the potential human response,” he notes.
At the Jacobs School, Elhossiny was mentored by Fraser J. Sim, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the neuroscience program.
“Dr. Sim’s lab sets the standards for a collaborative, resourceful and fun workplace,” he says. “From day one in the lab, I witnessed his thorough support in all aspects.”
“His guidance for my research project helped me develop an intellectual mindset. He always dedicated time and effort to discussions and hands-on training that provided me with invaluable experience,” Elhossiny says. “I even had a chance to present my work with him as a poster at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories Stem Cell Conference.”
Elhossiny says his time at the Jacobs School set him on the career path he envisioned.
“My training as an experimental scientist and computational biologist, backed by my passion for science and resolute pursuit of knowledge, are the cornerstones of my dream to lead a research group working on understanding the genomics landscape of diseases with the goal of developing therapies that make active contributions to health care, bettering the lives of people,” he says.
“My study at UB was the perfect head start toward that dream.”