Inaugurating An-Najah’s Neuroscience Lab; First of Its Type in Palestine
On Sunday, August 27th, 2017, An-Najah National University will inaugurate the Neuroscience Lab.
The Neuroscience Lab inauguration gives An-Najah an opportunity to continue being a pioneering university in Palestine that seeks to develop scientific research and offer services on the national and international levels.
Dr. Khalil Issa, the Dean of Medicine and Health Sciences, stressed the importance of this laboratory and pointed out that one of the most important objectives of An-Najah’s medical school is to follow up with recent development and pay more attention to what is new and useful.
Dr. Khalil added that the Lab will serve the Palestinian citizens and society and will also allow the University to compete with the world universities. Furthermore, the Lab’s equipment and supervisory and scientific research professionals are the milestones that will lead to a quantum leap in its development at different levels.
Dr. Mohammad Qneibi, Assistant Professor at the Biomedical Sciences Department at An-Najah mentioned that the Lab will contribute to the development of scientific research on an international level.
Dr. Qneibi, Lab Founder and Principle Investigator added that An-Najah 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). He explained that 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.
Dr. Qneibi'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, Dr. Qneibi 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. Dr. Qneibi'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.