Dr. Al-Shabrawey’s vision for future of eye research at OU

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Photo courtesy of OUWB

Founding Director of the Eye Research Center and Professor Dr. Al-Shabrawey has a goal to increase the visibility and recognition of Oakland University.

Arianna Heyman, Features Editor

From a young age, Founding Director of the Eye Research Center (ERC) and Professor at Oakland University Mohamed Al-Shabrawey, M.D., Ph.D, knew he wanted a career in the medical profession.

“My interest in the medical profession or to be a physician or doctor goes back to my childhood — my experience with my family, with my parents, going to the clinic and observing the care that my parents and myself had from those physicians,” Dr. Al-Shabrawey said. “I witnessed how they [physicians] are very respected, so I started to have a passion about being in the medical field since I was in elementary school. Everything goes back to my visits with my parents to the clinics.” 

After finishing medical school in his home country of Egypt, Dr. Al-Shabrawey’s life path changed after a visit from Dr. Ruth Caldwell of Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Caldwell gave a presentation about her eye research and Dr. Al-Shabrawey was fascinated.

“This is the point where I changed all my interests to focus on research,” Dr. Al-Shabrawey said. “I was impressed by her presentation, by the advances in research and she was so kind to invite me as a student to do my Ph.D research with her.” 

Dr. Al-Shabrawey hopes to make this same impact at OU. Increasing the visibility and the recognition of the school is important to him and he plans to do this by recruiting local and international students.

“To increase the visibility and recognition of the school — and the ranking of the school — is to be open to the outside world,” Dr. Al-Shabrawey said.

Since his transition to OU in October 2021, Dr. Al-Shabrawey has already made a huge impact on the OU community. 

It’s been terrific working with Dr. Al-Shabrawey, because ‘collegiality’ is always first and foremost,” Professor of Biomedical Studies Andrew Goldberg, Ph.D. said. “He brings a new vision and level of ambition to the OU biomedical research community, and is seeking to raise the bar on what can be accomplished, both now and in the future.” 

According to Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Al-Shabrawey is working to emulate models that set the standards for how other big universities accomplish their goals and inquiring as to how they can be implemented at OU. 

By cultivating a new sense of excitement and potential, he has been bringing people together to find common interests to build teams and partnerships to move us forward in ways that really showcase how the whole is much more than the sum of its parts,” Dr. Goldberg said.

Dr. Al-Shabrawey’s vast knowledge in his field is what makes him the ideal candidate to direct OU’s Eye Research Institute (ERI) and (ERC). Dr. Al-Shabrawey is an expert on the study of diabetic retinopathy, which is a major cause of blindness. 

“Sixty-five thousand patients a year develop diabetic retinopathy and people with diabetes are 25 times more likely to develop blindness,” Dr. Al-Shabrawey said. “The beauty of the research is that you can target what molecules and what cells drive this disease and you target them before it happens.” 

Dr. Al-Shabrawey believes the partnership between the ERI and ERC will ultimately be beneficial to translational research at OU. 

“This will increase recognition of the university. [It] will increase funding, promote research training programs and promote recruiting great people, so I think this will create an environment which is going to be attractive for new programs and attractive to people from outside,” Dr. Al-Shabrawey said. “This partnership was very essential and I am glad that I am here in this position to make this work.”