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WCM-Q shares expertise at community-driven autism event
WCM-Q shares expertise at community-driven autism event

Doha – June 30, 2024: Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) participated in the Autism Connect 2024 event, an annual initiative organized by the Child Development Center (CDC) for Special Needs. The one-day community-driven event is dedicated to fostering connections, providing education, and promoting empowerment within the autism community.

Dr. Ghizlane Bendriss, a neuroscientist and assistant professor of biology at WCM-Q, joined leading experts for a panel discussion titled 'Autism: Diagnosis, Intervention, and Advances in Research.' The session addressed crucial topics related to autism research, clinical practice, and advocacy.

Dr. Bendriss teaches biology and neuroscience to pre-medical students at WCM-Q and leads several educational and research projects investigating the role of gut microbiota in neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In 2017, she was awarded an Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grant to conduct one of the first clinical explorations of gut microbiome in Qatar.

During the panel discussion, Dr. Bendriss explored the intricate topic of gut-brain axis in autism. She highlighted the growing body of evidence linking the loss of diversity in gut microbes to autism-like behavior. Explaining the mechanisms through which gut metabolites, such as short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, and hormones, affect both peripheral and central nervous system development and function, she emphasized various interventions to reverse gut dysbiosis, including dietary changes, pre/probiotics, and fecal transplants. Dr. Bendriss also stressed the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle to regulate gut microbes and prevent the emergence of diseases.

'Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, behavior, and learning,' said Dr. Bendriss. 'The neurodevelopmental challenges are complex, making it essential to continue our efforts to improve the lives of individuals with autism. I am honored to have been invited to share my expertise, and sincerely thank the CDC for their dedication to building an educated and supportive autism community through initiatives such as Autism Connect 2024.'

Dr. Bendriss was accompanied by Sama Ayoub, a second-year WCM-Q pre-medical student. Together, they have conducted a pioneering study that compares local Qatari yogurts to imported probiotic yogurts, characterizing enhancing properties such as resistance to acidity, probiotic content, antibiotic properties against pathogens, and antibiotic resistance. Ayoub is the first author of a paper on the topic, and she and Dr. Bendriss have also published a protocol for making highly probiotic-rich yogurt at home.


At the event, Ayoub had the opportunity to engage with members of the autism community, discuss the role of gut microbes in autism, present recent advances in gut-brain axis research, and highlight WCM-Q relevant publications and current clinical trials involving fecal transplants and probiotics. Ayoub also demonstrated how to make healthy probiotic-enriched yogurts from local produce and answered visitor questions.


Ayoub's interest in autism research began in high school. Her personal project on enhancing communication between autistic children and their parents, inspired her to join WCM-Q. Reflecting on the probiotic yogurt study and her experience at the event, Ayoub said: 'Working on this paper and presenting it at the event was an incredibly rewarding experience. The study highlights the need to raise awareness about gut-brain axis and its impact on autism, a connection many might not assume. Speaking with parents of children on the autism spectrum about current research advances, and the importance of gut health and how it can be managed with probiotic-rich foods, such as homemade yogurt, was particularly fulfilling. I believe this field holds great promise, with much more research to be done for the benefit of the autism community. My research journey has been immensely rewarding, and I am excited to continue exploring this area.'


Posted by : Qatar and Doha City PR Network Editorial Team
Viewed 7058 times
PR Category : Healthcare & Medicine
Posted on : Monday, July 1, 2024  7:16:00 AM UAE local time (GMT+4)
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