Saudi University Officials Visit UB to Discuss Possible Collaborative Research

Visit Prompted by Groundbreaking Paper on Science of Cancer

By Lois Baker

Release Date: August 3, 2009 This content is archived.


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Mezyad Alterkawi, left, presents Kate Rittenhouse-Olson with King Saud University gold medal for research excellence. With them are Provost Satish K. Tripathi and Adel Almogren, right.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo officials spent two days last week meeting with representatives of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia to discuss potential research collaborations engendered by groundbreaking Saudi research conducted in collaboration with UB researchers.

The research, published in the August issue of Neoplasia, describes, in a mouse model, a novel vaccine immunotherapy approach that may be able to decrease the tumor burden in cancer patients by blocking cancer metastasis.

Adel Almogren, Ph.D., professor in the College of Medicine's Department of Pathology and Immunology at King Saud University, is one of the principal authors on the paper. Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, Ph.D., professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences in UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is senior author.

Almogren conducted research at UB as a master's student under Rittenhouse-Olson's direction, and has been in contact as a collaborator since leaving Buffalo.

The publication drew major interest from officials at the highest levels of Saudi government to increase UB collaborations with King Saud University, and raised the possibility of research funding from Saudi Arabian sources.

The Neoplasia paper generated a story in the July 21 issue of USA Today, which set in motion a series of events that resulted in the arrival at UB of Almogren and Mezyad Alterkawi, Ph.D., an emissary from King Saud University and CEO at the Riyadh Techno Valley Incubator in Saudi Arabia.

During their two-day visit, Almogren and Alterkawi awarded Rittenhouse-Olson the King Saud University gold medal for research excellence, and presented an invitation letter from the president of King Saud University to UB President John B. Simpson, which UB Provost Satish Tripathi, Ph.D., accepted in Simpson's absence.

The visitors met also with Michael Cain, M.D., dean of the UB medical school, John Wood, associate vice provost for International Education, and other UB leaders, to discuss their vision of collaborating further with Rittenhouse-Olson and UB. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is interested in increasing research and research collaborations in order to build a knowledge-based economy in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi representatives reported. A UB-Saudi Arabia research link also may benefit the emergence of Buffalo's knowledge-based economy, UB officials said.

Rittenhouse-Olson, along with Jamie Heimburg-Molinaro and Susan Morey, members of her research team, have been invited to King Saud University in the fall to meet with the university president and discuss further research collaborations.

King Saud University is the premier research institute in Saudi Arabia and is leading the nation's efforts to achieve transition to a knowledge-based economy in the kingdom.

Other collaborators in this work were Olga V. Glinskii and Vladislav V. Glinsky of the University of Missouri and Harry S. Truman Veterans' Hospital, Rene Roy of the University of Montreal, Richard P. Cheng of National Taiwan University, and Gregory Wilding of UB.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.