Determination, vision, and productivity in what serves humanity were at the heart of the Healthcare Innovation and Technology Stimulus (HITS) Awards Ceremony that honored the best USJ/AUB teams for their ingenious projects because of their high potential in contributing to technological advancement and economic growth in Lebanon. Out of 34 submissions, 7 were selected for funding after different stages of short-listing by a committee of Lebanese and international experts.
A virtual ceremony was organized by Prof. Dolla Karam Sarkis, Vice-Rector for Research at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ), and Prof. Zaher Dawi, Associate Provost at the American University of Beirut (AUB), in the presence of Prof. Salim Daccache, s.j., USJ Rector and Prof. Fadlo Khuri, MD, AUB President, as well as Messrs. Saad Andary, Khaled Bohsali, and Bassam Tabshouri of the Steering Committee. The organizers congratulated the winning teams for their innovative projects in the field of health and technology, while emphasizing the importance of collaboration between teams from both universities.
Prof. Daccache emphasized the common elements that unite both universities and the challenges that lie ahead of them in continuing their mission toward excellence and service in higher education in Lebanon and the Middle East. “It is a joy for me and USJ to celebrate this common scientific venture and event, even in this dark situation in Lebanon,” he said. “These projects and efforts stand as proof of our intention to move more and more towards solid collaboration between our two historical institutions in more than one area.”
The winning researchers presented the following projects:
Elie Al-Chaer (AUB) and Joseph Maarrawi (USJ) who are working on an electrocorticography (ECoG), a biodegradable, low cost, alternative that offers patients with degenerative neurological disorders (diseases such as Parkinson, epilepsy, etc.) a minimally invasive, highly efficient solution without the disadvantages (cost and regular replacement) of ceramic or metallic material often used in implanted prosthesis used for treatment.
Joseph Costantine (AUB) and Dania Chelala (USJ) who developed a portable creatinine-dedicated instantaneous test that can be used at homes or clinics, providing easy and immediate access to results to patients with kidney failure.
Massoud Khraiche (AUB) and Marwan Ghoson (USJ) who are developing a low-cost and high sensitivity electronic chip for early cancer detection and cancer monitoring in blood. The chip will be at the heart of a rapid cancer screening point-of-care assay.
Firas Kobaissy (AUB) and Tarek Itani (USJ) who are developing an accurate and sensitive portable assay allowing for rapid clinical detection of neonatal sepsis in preterm infants, helping to reduce death in preterm infants, and lowering the cost of care.
Raya Saab (AUB) and Chantal Farra (USJ) whose project aims to develop a system to deliver a treatment targeted against the specific gene driving the childhood tumor rhabdomyosarcoma that has the potential to be more effective, and with less side effects, than current treatments
Esper Saba (AUB) and Hervé Perron (Swiss company GeNeuro-Innovation SAS) who have identified a circulating biomarker that correlates with multiple sclerosis activity, directly impacting patient care and making treatment more precise and cost-effective.
Elie Shammas (AUB), Joseph Ghafari (AUB), and Georges Sakr (USJ) whose project extends the utility of intraoral scanners to automatically identify individual teeth within a digital impression and accurately measure the teeth movement through an orthodontic treatment plan.
“I want to thank all the brilliant faculty of these two universities who are giving hope to this country every day,” said President Khuri who considered the event a celebration of resilience, persistence, and perseverance for a bright future. “Most important is to continue to innovate and create. This is the kind of acumen that has made Lebanon famous since the 2nd millennium BC and it is only right that Lebanon's top universities today should be the drivers of specialist multidisciplinary innovation that enables entrepreneurship, even in our darkest days.”