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08 June 2022

Dr Ahmad Al Khleifat receives ENCALS Young Investigator Award

The award recognises the brightest and best young scientists in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is given for outstanding research.

Dr Ahmad Al Khleifat

Dr Ahmad Al Khleifat has received the ENCALS (European Network to Cure ALS) Young Investigator Award at the ENCALS Meeting 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The ENCALS is a network of ALS centres in Europe, with members from universities and hospitals conducting ALS clinical/research activity.

The ENCALS Young Investigators Award recognises the brightest and best young scientists under 35 in ALS. The annual award is given to outstanding research that challenges existing ideas of ALS that will benefit patient and impact our understanding of the disease. This year, the award was presented to three recipients.

This is incredible news. I am at a loss for words and so happy to receive this prestigious award. What a career highlight! I am truly humbled and happy to be recognised in this way.

Dr Ahmad Al Khleifat

ALS is a fatal disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing progressive weakness of the muscles. The average age of onset is 60 years and death commonly occurs three years after the first symptoms due to respiratory failure. Although there are some treatments that can slow disease progression by a few months, there is no cure available to date. ALS is the most common form of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Dr Al Khleifat’s research focuses on disease gene identification through next generation sequencing, coupled with advanced data analysis to deliver diagnostic tools for complex disease genetics. He focuses on multiomics comparative analysis using big data to develop diagnostic methods and tools for researchers and clinicians.

His research explores the relationship between ALS phenotype, disease progression, survival and genetics. His findings have led to the discovery of several genetic factors that contribute to the risk of ALS, some of which currently being studied as potential therapy.

He created the Trans-Ancestral Genetics working group as part of the Project MinE consortium, with a focus on diversifying genetic research in ALS to include multi-ethnic populations and accurately represent ALS genetics-related disease risks in all populations. Additionally, he is a co-lead the Drug Discovery and Trials Optimisation Working Group in the DEMON international network for data science and AI applied to dementia.

Dr Al Khleifat is a Research Fellow in the Al-Chalabi Group in the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience Department at the School of Neuroscience. His work is supported by the MND Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowship and the ALS Association’s Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship. He recently talked to BBC Arabic about research progress in dementia.

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