One day each week, Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, Ph.D., one of the newest additions to Wistar’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center, starts his day with an early morning Skype call to Egypt. These are not your typical calls to say hi to distant family when you live abroad, but instead they are long-distance lab meetings and research discussions.
A molecular virologist by training, Abdel-Mohsen’s first scientific interest was hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is still a leading cause of liver disease and death in his native country of Egypt. He worked in a World Health Organization-accredited regional reference laboratory for Polio virus in Egypt, then moved to California, attending the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF), and switched to HIV research for his Ph.D. studies.
While a graduate student at UCSF, he attended a seminar by Eva Harris, Ph.D., a co-founder of the Sustainable Science Institute (SSI), an international volunteer organization that works to build scientific and public health capabilities in developing countries.
“This talk inspired me and I saw a chance to take my knowledge and expertise for the benefit of many,” said Abdel-Moshen. Without thinking twice, he joined the organization and became a volunteer scientist, working on the Hepatitis C program in Egypt, for which he serves as program coordinator. He applies his scientific talent to make a concrete difference in the lives of people in developing countries, including his own.
One year after he joined the SSI, the organization started to build a laboratory facility at the National Liver Institute at Menoufiya University in Egypt. One of the main projects was to create a biorepository to collect, process and store HCV cases to further support research and investigation into this liver-damaging virus. Abdel-Mohsen has contributed to this effort by offering design input for the lab space, placing material orders, choosing equipment, and supervising the experimental work. Now a fully functioning facility, the biorepository is a training and learning center, but most importantly contributes a wealth of data that’s used to push HCV research forward across the globe.
After completing his postdoctoral experience at UCSF, Abdel-Mohsen’s career took him across the country to the East Coast, in Philadelphia, where he was recruited by Wistar as an assistant professor to expand the Institute’s HIV research program.
Many things have changed in his life, but Abdel-Mohsen continues to hold those Skype calls with the SSI team in Egypt to troubleshoot experiments and supervise journal clubs, although the time difference in Philadelphia is a little smaller.
“It’s a great way to start my day,” he said.
And a beautiful morning reminder of a scientific career that embraces its roots while continuing to share knowledge across the globe.