Journey to Science
While many young women dream about their wedding day, Reem Abdel-Haq has always had other priorities than, as she puts it, “sitting around, waiting for a husband.” An Arab-American woman, Reem wants to establish herself as a successful scientist to prove her value in the workforce, not only in hopes of inspiring other women, but to help overcome gender norms amongst more traditional cultures.
Inspired by her grandmother’s 15-year battle with breast cancer, Reem hopes to develop more efficient cancer therapies that will be accessible to people in less developed countries, including her extended family in Palestine.
Academic and Professional Ambitions
Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?
“I was in my sophomore year at Brown, and still hadn’t made up my mind between pursuing medicine or research. This real-life lab experience is giving me the opportunity to see what life in the lab is like, and I love it!”
What did you work on in the lab?
“I spent my summer at Stanford developing a method to study microRNAs in individual cells. MicroRNAs are small molecules that can regulate the expression of genes and may play a role in causing cancer and many other diseases. By gaining a greater understanding of microRNAs in the context of human disease, biologists can hopefully develop novel therapies for life-threatening conditions in the future.”
What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?
“I’d love to pursue cancer or stem cell research at Stanford while teaching bio-ethics, or creating regenerative medicine at a biotech company. Ultimately, I’d like to create affordable therapies for people, especially in less developed countries with inefficient heathcare systems.”
What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience?
“Just being here has allowed me to really challenge myself and think critically. Before this, my knowledge of science was limited to a classroom setting and memorizing lecture slides rather than experiencing the impact of science research in the real world. With the Amgen Scholars Program, I’m actually able to apply my critical thinking to projects.”