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Fighting COVID-19 with research von Nowras Rahhal
am 7. July 2021
ungefähr 4 Minuten

Fighting COVID-19 with research

Nowras Rahhal was born as a stateless refugee in Syria and started his studies in times of civil war: Despite those circumstances, he always believed that academia was the way to go. Today, he is part of the Vienna Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences (PhaNuSpo) at the University of Vienna and contributes to the fight against COVID-19 by conducting research in the field of pharmaceutical technology.

Nanoscience first caught my interest when I was studying pharmaceutical technology back in my bachelor’s programme. It combines chemistry, physics and biology within one discipline. What was fascinating for me was the use of tiny particles as drug delivery systems in order to enhance the therapeutic effects. I knew back then that the potential applications of nanoparticles would eventually lead to scientific breakthroughs that may contribute to improving our wellbeing. I always wanted to be part of that field. Even though the way to get there was not that easy.

Starting university in times of civil war

I was born as a stateless refugee in Syria. As a kid, I was enrolled in a school administrated by the United Nations. When I finished high school, my grades allowed me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy at Damascus University. Shortly thereafter, the Syrian civil war erupted. My family and I, along with millions of other people, have endured a tough war. The fact that I was able to finish my bachelor’s programme in a country that had to endure devastation, economic collapse and desperation and that was without a lot of hope reassured me that my degree and academia were the way to go.





👀 Learn more about Nowra’s journey in the video “From Statelessness to Covid-19 Vaccine Development: Nowras’ story of perseverance” (United Nation (UNRWA)).

Coming to Europe

In 2018, I was admitted at Kassel University in Germany where I obtained my master’s degree. The challenges of coming to Europe were enormous, and they are part of the experience of every international student relocating. Being stateless adds further obstacles.  The most vivid for me is the feeling of still being tied to the shackles of my past and to where I come from. Everybody is puzzled when they hear about statelessness and usually do not know how to deal with the situation. The chores of opening a bank account or going to the immigration office to settle the residence permit can be even more daunting than they already are.

Nowras Rahal at the University of Vienna.
Nowras Rahal at the University of Vienna where he is working on a project related to COVID-19 vaccines (c) private

University of Vienna: a new adventure in science

After successfully completing my studies in Kassel and an internship at the Max Planck Institute, it was time for me to move on. Vienna is a city located at the heart of Europe, a place full of history, impressive architecture and a culture that is open to everyone. Several famous researchers and scientists have studied at the University of Vienna. To name just a few: Max Perutz, Richard Adolf Zsigmondy and Ludwig Boltzmann. I wanted to consider this endeavour as a new adventure in science. The doctoral position really fit my academic vision and research – and here I am.

COVID-19 vaccines: research for a better world

During my time at the Max Planck Institute, I first worked on a project related to COVID-19 vaccines – a topic that I am also dealing with in my recent research in the Vienna Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences (PhaNuSpo) at the University of Vienna. In times of a pandemic, it is important to vaccinate an enormous number of people to achieve immunity against an infectious disease across the entire population. Our goal is to develop techniques that could achieve the same results with way lower doses by targeting the immune system, therefore increasing the efficacy of vaccination campaigns, and reducing economical burdens both on industrial companies and governments. The world is going through a global pandemic, and people whose lives could be saved are losing their lives.  In my everyday research, I am guided by a larger vision of helping others. Our research has the potential to give hope to the world.

👉 Read more about the Vienna Doctoral Schools:
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Presenting… Valeria Saggio: Quantum physics for machine learning

Freedom of the press: Is media ever free of influenc
Freedom of the press: Is media ever free of influences?

 

 

 

 

 


Nowras Rahhal

Nowras Rahhal obtained a degree in pharmaceutical sciences from Damascus University and studied at the University of Kassel. He is currently completing a doctoral programme in the field of vaccine technology under the supervision of Christoph Rademacher at the University of Vienna.



Freedom of the press: Is media ever free of influences?

After studying in Australia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, Hamza Amin decided to join the Doctoral School of Social Sciences at the University of Vienna as a doctoral candidate. He investigates how political and economic influences impact the journalistic culture in the Global South. © privat

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