Battling diseases in developing countries is more difficult than in the U.S. due to scarce funding and resources. Thanks to a $300,000 grant by the Ibrahim El-Hefni Technical Training Foundation, help is at hand.
|Egyptian physician Rasha Elamoshy, front, is learning the latest approaches to diabetes care with the assistance of Fouad Kandeel. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
The grant subsidizes a two-year program to train a visiting Egyptian physician in modern approaches to diabetes care and research, as well as to prepare scientists from China to explore the causes and potential cures of liver cancer.
Diabetes was first described in Egypt in 3000 B.C. by Hesy-ra, considered by some to be the world’s first physician. Today, this ancient disease is a significant problem in Egypt and most of the world.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates that the Middle East has the highest worldwide prevalence of diabetes — more than 10 percent of the population.
The Technical Training Foundation was established in 1985 by the late Ibrahim El-Hefni, Ph.D., an Egyptian-born scientist and inventor who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s. Attributing his success to opportunities he received in America, El-Hefni became a generous benefactor to educational and medical institutions.
His daughter, Suzanne Wright, has overseen the foundation since his death in 2005. “He believed that the best use of charitable money was in training people,” she said.
Rasha Elamoshy, M.D., is one of those people. Elamoshy, a physician from the National Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology in Cairo, is learning advanced medical care and research methods at City of Hope that she can apply at her home institution to advance medical care and research in diabetes in her native country, Egypt.
|Tao Li, front, is among the Chinese scientists working with City of Hope’s Wendong Huang. (Photo by p.cunningham)|
While most Egyptian diabetes patients can obtain oral medicines and some kinds of insulin to control their blood sugar levels, very few have access to the new technologies to manage their diabetes such as insulin pumps or glucose monitoring kits.
At City of Hope, Elamoshy was heartened to see new type 1 and type 2 diabetes therapies and a thriving research program that may yield future treatments. “Looking for new treatments and tools for managing the disease could be one of the ways that will make my presence here count for Egyptian diabetic patients,” she said.
Elamoshy is learning how to perform basic and clinical research and studying the molecular basis of how islet cells develop and grow.
“After her training, Dr. Elamoshy will return to her country armed with the cutting-edge skills required to address this growing pandemic,” said Fouad R. Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., director
of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The Technical Training Foundation grant also supports research and training that focuses on liver cancer.
Wendong Huang, Ph.D., assistant professor of gene regulation and drug discovery, and visiting Chinese researchers are studying how a deadly form of liver cancer called hepatic cell carcinoma, or HCC, develops.
“HCC is the second leading cause of cancer death in China, and the number of patients is rising,” said Huang. “This grant will help train the visiting researchers and hopefully lead to effective treatments for human HCC.”
Wright sees the work at City of Hope as an extension of her father’s vision. “This is my father’s legacy,” she said, “and this is the foundation that our family very much wants to preserve and grow.”