An-Najah Inaugurates the Neuroscience Lab; First of Its Type in Palestine
On Sunday, August 27th, 2017, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at An-Najah National University inaugurated the Neuroscience Lab, which is the first of its type in Palestine.
The ceremony took place at the Faculty of Medicine conference room in the New Campus.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Dr. Hassan Fetian, Director of the Medicine Department delivered a speech on behalf of the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. He expressed his pride in An-Najah staff and mentioned that the university progress refers to the high quality of its staff, faculties and infrastructure.
He also commended the faculty students achievements in the international tests as a large number of them were admitted in prominent international universities.
Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah welcomed the guests and mentioned that the university strategic plan for the year 2016-2020 focused on 12 themes, most important of which was scientific research. He added that the university researchers published more than 200 papers during 2016 and pointed out that the Lab will contribute to the development of scientific research and will serve the Palestinian community well.
The ceremony also included a presentation by Dr. Mohammad Qneibi, Lab Founder and Principle Investigator on the lab’s establishment, components and working mechanism.
An-Najah National University will be the first institution in Palestine to have a neuroscience lab that can investigate neurological diseases at the molecular level by using state-of-art technique such as electrophysiology (patch clamp). One of the prominent advantages of using this technique (i.e., electrophysiology) in the field of neurons is the ability to measure the inhibition effect/biophysical properties of each neuron cell separately with one variable only.
The Lab’s research focuses on glutamate ion channel receptors (iGluRs). These receptors mediate synaptic neurotransmission and are indispensable in the brain activity, such as memory and learning. Upon binding to glutamate, the glutamate receptor rapidly changes its conformation and opens its ion channel pore to allow small cations such as sodium ions to flow across the cellular membrane, thus transmitting an electrical signal between neurons. Because the receptor channel opens in the microsecond second (us) time region and desensitizes even in the millisecond (ms) time domain, a rapid kinetic technique must be used that not only has a sufficient time resolution but also is suitable for studying these channel proteins embedded in the membrane. To overcome this obstacle, the researcher uses both electrophysiology patch clamp recording and a fast exchange solution Piezo device to serve as a unique functional tool to investigate the mechanism of channel formation, inhibition and regulation within the μs-to-ms time domain. The Lab’s future research might represent novel therapeutic targets to treat various neurological diseases such as neurodegeneration, disorders of cognitive function, epilepsy, Parkinson and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
With this great achievement, An-Najah National University will be the first university in Palestine and even Arab world to have a neuroscience lab. Building the Neuroscience Lab will help the University to pursue vital research programmes that try to comprehend how complex neural circuits are shaped and reshaped through the development of the brain. Moreover, the Lab will bring together a powerful interdisciplinary team of scientists to explore the relationships between gene function, neuronal brain circuits and behavior. This collaboration will have profound implications for the ability to understand and treat neurological and psychiatric disorders.
The Lab will also contribute to global progress in brain science and introduce An-Najah as one of the world’s pioneering neuroscience centres. With outstanding faculty recruits, talented students, state-of-the-art equipment and modern new facilities, the Centre, together with established neuroscientists at An-Najah, will have a major role in generating significant intellectual home for cutting-edge neuroscience research. In addition, the Lab will serve as multi-disciplinary projects, where medical and pharmacist students can do their senior projects.
The ceremony was also attended by Dr. Mohammad El-Amleh, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Dr. Maher Abu Zant, Vice President of Administrative Affairs; Dr. Same Al-Kilani, President’s Assistant of Community Affairs and a number of experts, specialists and neurologist as well as a large number of the university academic and administrative staff and students.