Queen’s student wins scholarship to continue heart research

Dr. Ruaa Al-Qazazi receives $10, 000 from PHA Canada Mohammed Family 

Image supplied by: PHA Canada
Al-Qazazi is currently enrolled in the translational medicine graduate program at Queen’s.

Queen’s student Dr. Ruaa Al-Qazazi won the PHA Canada Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship of $10,000 last year. While an event was scheduled to honour Al-Qazai in June, it was canceled because of COVID-19. 

The PHA Canada Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship was established in 2017 by Renae and Joseph Mohammed in honour of their mother, Judy Mohammed. In 2009, she was rushed to the hospital after experiencing heart failure and, after she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), was given three to five years to live. 

Mohammed continues to live with the condition.

PH is a condition that causes a number of symptoms, including temporary loss of consciousness caused by a decrease in blood pressure, tiredness, and quickened heartbeat. The condition is a result of high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, and often leads to enlargement and weakness of the right side of the heart. 

There’s currently no cure for the condition. 

The goal of the scholarship is to aid emerging PH researchers who are contributing to a better understanding of treatments for PH. Ultimately, the Mohammed family wants to assist in finding a cure for their mother and others who are suffering from PH.

Laurence Richard, marketing and communications coordinator at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada (PHA Canada), told The Journal Al-Qazazi stood out as a candidate for the scholarship because of the “merits of her project’s objectives and methodology, and for her strong capabilities as a young researcher.”

To stand out, Richard said candidates must demonstrate academic excellence and show promise of outstanding achievement in research training. She also suggested aspiring candidates must contribute meaningfully to one of the many clinical aspects of PH, including its epidemiology in Canada, clinical aspects, mechanisms, treatment, or social and/or economic implications. 

Richard also said Al-Qazazi was highly recommended by the Research Subcommittee of PHA Canada’s Medical Committee.

Al-Qazazi did not respond to The Journal’s request for comment in time for publication.

She received a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Baghdad in 2009 and is currently enrolled in the translational medicine graduate program at Queen’s. 

Her research focuses on developing therapies to improve pulmonary hypertension patients’ quality of life, specifically studying the role of inflammation in right ventricular dysfunction in pulmonary arterial hypertension. 

The funds from the scholarship are collected through an Annual Run/Walk event which has found its success through the efforts of Renae and Joseph Mohammed and many dedicated community donors. 

Together, the Mohammed family and PH community have collected over $100,000 for the PH cause. Funding from this scholarship has given recipients the opportunity to publish articles and present their findings across the globe. 

This year, the seventh Annual Run/Walk for PH Research, which was scheduled to take place in June, has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Fundraising efforts continue to take place online through the PHA Canada website. 


This article was updated to reflect that Laurence Richards is a woman.

This article was updated to reflect that Dr. Ruaa Al-Qazazi won the scholarship in 2019, not 2020.

The Journal regrets the error


Research, scholarship, Student experience

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