Northwestern University has received its first research grants from the Qatar National Research Fund, a branch of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, opening the door to increased collaborations between Northwestern faculty and researchers in Qatar.
The two grants, each worth $1,050,000 over three years, are part of $140.5 million awarded to 156 research proposals from around the world under the flagship National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), which was designed to foster collaborative research to benefit Qatar.
The awards illustrate how Northwestern’s partnership with the Qatar Foundation has evolved from the founding of Northwestern University in Qatar with its undergraduate programs in journalism and communication to now include grant-funded research. (NU-Q’s inaugural class recently graduated, and most of the seniors attended the June 15 commencement ceremony in Evanston.)
“These prestigious awards reflect the excellent work of our faculty, and we look forward to establishing more of these international collaborations,” said Northwestern Vice President for Research Jay Walsh.
One NPRP award went to John B. Troy, department chair and professor of biomedical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, who is collaborating with colleagues at Qatar University. Troy’s team will work on developing a prosthesis that interfaces with the brain to restore vision to patients who are blind through loss of retinal ganglion cells, which can occur in glaucoma and optic neuritis.
“In Qatar, glaucoma is said to account for 40 percent of its cases of blindness, and 16 percent of people above age 40 are afflicted with this disease,” Troy said. “We hope to create a small footprint for biomedical engineering in this rapidly developing country, specifically in the area of neural engineering.”