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MNS portrait #2 - Radwa Kalil
MNS portrait #2 - Radwa Kalil
Neuroscience of creativity

Radwa is waiting for us in the lobby of Radisson Blu hotel in St. Julian’s, Malta. She is attending the 6th MNS Conference (Malta, 2017), ready to embark into her PhD in Bremen, Germany.

“I am optimist and I feel that my new lab will be the right environment for me, where I will be finally allowed being autonomous and creative”, Radwa tells us. This is very appropriate, given that her exciting PhD topic will be about the neurobiology of creativity.

Who are you, where are you from? Which education path did you follow?

“I am optimist and I feel that my new lab will be the right environment for me, where I will be finally allowed being autonomous and creative”, Radwa tells us.
I am an Egyptian, born in Cairo but, lived half of my life in Alexandria, Egypt.
In 2008, I obtained a B.Sc. in Zoology and a pre-M.Sc. degree in Comparative Anatomy, Embryology and Developmental Biology at Alexandria University. In the meanwhile, I was teaching practical courses related to zoology for bachelor students. However, I was not happy, I felt that I was not enjoying what I was doing. I was very young (21 years old) when I got this job at the university, and in my country such low-level teaching appointments are already considered prestigious. But I was not satisfied, possibly due to the work being mostly routine, to the poor scientific facilities, to the lack of teamwork. So many factors in fact...

I discovered Neuroscience, by attending the 3rd MNS Mediterranean Neuroscience conference in the lecture halls of Alexandria library.
December 2010 was a turn point in my life, when I discovered Neuroscience, by attending the 3rd MNS Mediterranean Neuroscience conference in the lecture halls of Alexandria library. Attending this event drove my motivation and made me understand what I really wanted to do. After this conference, which allowed me to meet important researchers in neuroscience from all over the world –such as Ben-Ari, Gustavo Deco, Hagai Bergman and others– I started to get more knowledge about this interesting field (which was new for me).

I then approached Marie Moftah –associate professor at Alexandria University and the conference local organizer– and inquired about the possibility of switching my training toward Neuroscience. She provided me immediately with an opportunity to start as a training-through-research internship in Computational Neuroscience within the N€uromed EU Project into which two Egyptian universities, Alexandria University and Assiut University, were involved. I learned only afterwards that a vital contribution to N€uromed was coming from the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society, precisely initiated in December 2009 by this EU consortium members!

The topic of the internship was about “Studying Neuronal and Cognitive Dysfunction in Epileptic Patients using a Combined Experimental-Computational Methodology”. To get the required skills, I attended the INCF-sponsored school ACCN in 2011. Always through MNS and N€uromed, I could have an extended stay of two months at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases (IMN, Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France), in the lab of Thomas Boraud, which further improved my training. I was ready at this point to complete my transition to neuroscience! And I managed to enroll (and get) a master degree in integrative neuroscience at the Center of Behavioral Brain Sciences in Magdeburg (Germany).

What is your topic of your current research and what do you like about it?

Currently, I started a PhD in Bremen University under the supervision of Professor Ben Godde. My PhD project focuses on the neurobiology of creativity. What I like most is that creativity is central in our life, it is what permeates our scientist and personal daily life! I am really excited to better understand what are the factors that enhance the creativity among individuals? And if there is a difference between different creativity levels, in terms of neural correlates.

Creativity emerge from the interplay of several neuro-biological/cognitive processes, the study of which could help refining psychological and neuro-economical theories explaining human behavior. In this study, I will use all the computational and theoretical experiences that I acquired before (during my previous research activities). Additionally, I will combine these techniques with novel ones (i.e., human EEG, fMRI and TMS) that I will acquire from my work at Jacobs university.

Was it difficult to get where you are? Any obstacle you met? How did you overcome these obstacles?

Definitely, It was very difficult especially because I am girl from a male dominated society. In Egyptian society, girls and women are allowed to do ordinary works but not the extraordinary ones. Sure, there were other obstacles but, this one was a major one, which somehow and indirectly enforced me to make a choice between keeping my mini-job in an Egyptian university or going abroad to pursue my research training and career.

For me, the decision was not an easy one, but I was so lucky enough to have very special parents who supported me and accepted that I follow my driving passion.
Therefore, I left my teaching position in the Egyptian university and restarted from the scratch in the field of neuroscience. A consequence was that I could not validate my Egyptian master. It was a big pain, but I decided to go on with my choice and, at the end, I managed to successfully develop a new training and research agenda.

Do you want to thank someone or something for helping you arriving where you are?

Yes, there were so many people I remember as rainbows through my clouds (I had so many clouds). My parents are the first and, then, the mentor who opened for me the way to neuroscience, Marie Moftah. I would also like to thank Marc Landry and Driss Boussaoud, who helped me, as well as other Egyptian students, to go abroad for scientific exchange via MNS stipends. So many others supported me and I do know want to forget any of them! For instance, Andre Granne and Thomas Boraud in Bordeaux who encouraged and trusted me.

What are your future plans or hopes? Would you like going back to your home country or not and why?

I would prefer supporting my country from abroad through scientific collaboration, helping to unshadow the many talents existing in my country.
In the immediate future, I want to pursue my PhD on the theme of creativity and I hope one day to be able to autonomously direct a team and give my students the great guidance I once received from the wonderful people who supported me.

No, I don’t want to go back to my country, only for short visits. Do I sound too bad? Well, I am skeptical about the possibility to see my society changing soon, it will take a very long time, and I would not stand staring at negative situations without being able to change them… Therefore, I would prefer supporting my country from abroad through scientific collaboration, helping to unshadow the many talents existing in my country.

Yes, it is difficult to go back to my country and I am now fully adapted to European society, although I do love my country so much. My dream is that an ever-increasing attention is given in my country to education and research. I dream to see my country with a better vision.

Radwa Khalil is currently at Jacobs University in Bremen (Germany). She enrolled a PhD in the program of Neuroscience, Psychology and Methods, and is finally robustly engaged toward a career in neuroscience research.



LAST ARTICLES
MNS Best Poster and Best presentation prizes at IBRO-ARC
MNS awarded Best Poster and Best presentation prizes at the third IBRO-ARC workshop "Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity" Faculty of Science, Alexandria University EGYPT with the support of IBRO and MNS 17 to 19 December 2020 Alexandria University, Egypt Virtual Workshop    
The Workshop The workshop was held over three days from 17 to 19 December 2020 on Zoom platform. A group of young researchers from Egypt, Tunis, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and India actively participated in this event. Furthermore, the sessions were delivered by distinguished professors from Egypt, France, Malta, Nigeria and South Africa. To maximize the benefit, the lectures were live-streamed over two days through the portals of IBRO and MNS: https://www.facebook.com/IBROarc https://www.facebook.com/MedNeuroSociety/   The workshop curriculum included ten sessions ranging from educational lectures and academic research to the presentation of the opportunities available to students and the current challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, treatments from cannabinoid-derivatives and its relation with the central nervous system. The workshop also introduced the best methods of scientific publishing, with a commitment to the ethics of scientific research and publication. The workshop reviewed the opportunities available through the participating organizations. The workshop covered three practical sessions on molecular biology techniques, western blotting and brain anatomy. The prizes The workshop also included competitions among young researchers on their research presentations and the design of research posters.   The workshop concluded with a review of the results of the competitions, and MNS President Prof. Giuseppe Di Giovanni awarded a financial prize (€150) funded by MNS to Mustapha Oluwaseun from Nigeria for his excellence in all his contributions. The first best research presentation prize and the first best poster design were also funded by MNS.   The best research presentation prize The first prize (€150) was awarded to Fatma Ahmed from Lebanon The second prize was awarded to Nour-Eddine Kaikai from Morocco as a certificate of appreciation The third prize was awarded to Islam Ayman from Egypt and as a certificate of appreciation The best poster designs. The first prize (€150) was awarded to Sarah Mahfouz from Egypt The second prize was awarded to Isaac Henneh from Ghana as a certificate of appreciation The third prize was awarded to Yvette Nguizeye from Cameroon as a certificate of appreciation The workshop concluded with congratulating on the success of the workshop and thanking all funding organizations, lecturers, organizing committees, participants and wishes of a happy new year.
3rd IBRO-ARC Virtual workshop: Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity.
As President of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society I am honored to invite you to join the virtual meeting of the 3rd IBRO (International Brain Research Organization) IBRO Africa Regional Committee workshop: Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity.The workshop will be hosted by Faculty of Science in #Alexandria University, #Egypt between 17-18 December 2020. Part of the program will be shared live as indicated in the attached program. Please save the dates and join US according to the timeline… We want to thank Amira Zaky for its organization and her valuable support.Join us through the following channels: - https://www.facebook.com/IBROarc/- https://www.facebook.com/MedNeuroSociety/https://fb.me/e/a5NVAKMMq
Giuseppe Di GiovanniMNS President
Postdoctoral Researcher Bioinformatics/Neuroscience University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)
Expires on January 02, 2021
Postdoctoral Researcher Bioinformatics/NeuroscienceUniversity of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)La Jolla, United StatesWe are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to join the labs of Drs. Christopher Benner and Francesca Telese in the Department of Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.The candidate will work in an interdisciplinary environment at the intersection of bioinformatics and neurobiology, using cutting edge genomics profiling and analysis techniques to understand subsistence abuse disorders and addiction.Dr. Benner’s research program is largely focused on decoding the regulatory functions of the genome by developing and applying NGS methods and computational analysis across different biological systems. A major goal of the lab is to study the role of enhancer elements in transcriptional regulation and to investigate disease-associated genetic variation on enhancer function to better understand the impact that non-coding DNA has on regulatory networks.Dr. Telese’s research program is primarily focused on using molecular and next-generation sequencing (NGS) methods to study tissue- and cell type-specific gene regulatory mechanisms that contribute to susceptibility and development of substance use disorders, using animal models. A major goal of the lab is to generate novel hypotheses that can be tested using functional genetic tools to elucidate unknown disease mechanisms and to identify novel therapeutic targets.Successful candidates will be expected to lead a project investigating the molecular and genetic underpinnings of addiction. Using single cell technologies and other advanced NGS techniques, the candidate will be responsible for both data acquisition and analysis, with the goal of elucidating transcriptional networks in the brain and verifying their findings. The candidate will have direct access to an Illumina NextSeq sequencer and extensive computational resources. The candidate will receive training in both laboratories, which will include working on novel NGS techniques and the development of new bioinformatics software and tools to characterize changes in transcription, chromatin states and genome structure during different stages of addiction development. This project is funded by an NIH U01 grant. Candidates should have a strong background in genomics, and serious scientists that specialize in either experimental and/or computational work will be considered for the position.UCSD is part of a vibrant scientific community in Southern California and is committed to build a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. Applications from female and minority candidates are strongly encouraged.Please send a cover letter describing research interest and fit for this position, a recent CV, and contact information of at least two references to Drs. Telese Francesca ftelese@ucsd.edu and Chris Benner cbenner@ucsd.edu  
MNS2021 - Canceled and Rescheduled  - President's Message
Dear MNS Members,
The Mediterranean Neuroscience Society is closely monitoring developments related to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of our members is the number one priority of our society. Several other conferences and workshops have already made the decision to move to web-hosted events, while other conferences have decided to either change venues, reschedule the event, or to stay the course for now. Due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of having an in-presence conference according the MNS’ aims, we have decided to cancel MNS2021, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference has been rescheduled to May 29-June 2, 2022 and will still be held in Dubrovnik. We want to keep all of you informed as best as possible, please continue to check our website for updates about upcoming conference and events.   Wishing you the very best,   Giuseppe Di Giovanni   Mediterranean Neuroscience Society President
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