Specialty: Health Psychology & Public Heal I am a Fulbright Scholar, author, and scientific researcher. My background in scientific research and communications allows my work to take on an interdisciplinary approach. I am currently the Head of Scientific Research & Development and Chairperson of the Institutional Review Board at King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH).
I am one of the few Bahraini females (potentially the first) with a Health Psychology research degree and an advocate of encouraging Arab youth and especially females to pursue a STEM career in the Middle East. My vision is to create a supportive infrastructure in Bahrain to encourage Arabs to pursue scientific research. I am the co-investigator of over 6 studies at KHUH covering research topics including: integrative oncology services and mind-body interventions, stress and burnout among residents and emergency medicine physicians, and the psychological impact of COVID-19 on healthcare providers. My department oversees and supports over 60 active studies in medical research at KHUH.
I took an interest in science when I first learned about the power of the Mind-Body connection from evidence- based research. My work focuses on vulnerable populations, including Arabic-speaking refugees and cancer patients. My personal mission is to explore how psychological processes such as stress influence disease and aging. My main research areas include the impact of stress on illness, ethnic health disparities, psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics, mental health, healthy aging, and the relationship between stress, inflammation, and the immune system. I am also an active science communicator on these topics on social media.
With this in mind, I joined the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Stress & Coping Lab (2015-2017) to run studies on the validation of the Stress Overload Scale (SOS) in various populations. For my Master’s thesis, I adapted this unique, validated stress measure that predicts illness to Arabic-speaking populations, specifically refugees and immigrants.
I won the Robert E. Thayer Scholarship for excellence in psychological research for my work on Arab populations in 2016. My thesis was nominated for Best Thesis at CSULB and published in the Arab Journal of Psychology in 2018. I have since worked for some of the top US medical organizations including the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Psychiatry & Neurosciences Department (Los Angeles), where I participated in novel research including the influence of Ketamine in treating depression and improving motor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. I also co-authored a meta-analysis about the benefits of mindfulness meditation on quality of life (QOL) and depression.
My fascination with neurodegenerative diseases led me to work at Amydis, Inc., a Los-Angeles based early stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing diagnostics for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases through the eye before symptoms appear. My personal experience with breast cancer influenced me to work on scientific research to manage patients’ QOL at the start of diagnosis, as well as provide emotional support to individuals going through the disease.
I was invited to author a chapter titled “Wellness in Cancer and Neoplastic Diseases” for Cambridge University Press’s Handbook of Wellness Medicine (2020). My work has been published in top-tier peer-reviewed science journals Nature, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, and OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine. I am also on the editorial board of the Journal of Bahrain Medical Society. Earlier in my career, I spent 10 years doing strategic communications in Bahrain and London. I completed my internship at Cedars-Sinai’s Psychiatry & Neurosciences Department.
I have a BA (Hons) in Psychology from the American University of Beirut (2005), an MA in Marketing & Communications from the University of the Arts London (2009), an MA in Psychological Research (Health Psychology) from CSULB, and an RYT-200 certification in ashtanga yoga. I recently co-founded eLaa Beirut, an initiative that provides free mental healthcare for people in Lebanon following the Beirut bomb explosion.