TheFace: Dr. Dana Bakheet, associate professor at Riyadh’s Alfaisal University College of Medicine

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 Time: April 18, 2019  

Dr. Dana Bakheet (seated, right) and her children. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)

I was born into a family with great passion for education and progress.

Both my parents spoke three languages and held higher education degrees. My father (RIP), dedicated his life to our education and it paid off, as my three siblings (two sisters and a brother) and I became distinguished in our careers.

Working hard, ethically and honestly, were the core principles that my parents taught us.

On returning home during the 1980s to pursue my college education at King Saud University (KSU), I got married and had my two eldest sons Ahmad and Talal during the first two years of college.

My dream was, and will always be, to represent my country in the brightest of ways, to have a dedicated and giving personality, and to leave a legacy in improving education and research in my field of expertise.

I obtained my master’s degree from KSU while working as a lecturer and was offered a scholarship to the UK for my Ph.D. I had both my younger children then and faced many obstacles that could have pulled me back from achieving my higher degrees, such as fulfilling my duties toward my house and growing family.

But I kept remembering that what was difficult would take time, and what was even more difficult and would distinguish me from others would take even more time and persistence.

My journey refined many of the skills that my father had taught me: Commitment, perseverance, and hard work, in addition to what I taught myself on time management, prioritization and multitasking.

In 2003, I was appointed as a faculty member at KSU, and in 2007, I started my work at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSHRC) to expand my knowledge and advance my research career.

My career flourished at KFSHRC and I was assigned to the genetics department. I later became the department’s unit head.

Being an academic has always been very important to me. I was appointed as an associate professor at Alfaisal University College of Medicine in 2009, a position I currently hold, as I am also vice dean of female affairs there.

In 2011, I started working with MAWHIBA (a foundation serving the needs of young Saudi talent) and was selected as a member of its scientific review committee. I also directed summer enrichment programs for MAWHIBA students at KFSHRC and Alfaisal University.

More recently, I started working at the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) as the head of the bio-banking and sample processing unit of the Saudi human genome project (SHGP).

The SHGP is a nationwide project that is the largest of its kind. It was established in January 2014, and recently launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of the Vision 2030 strategic projects.

The Kingdom has a high burden of genetic diseases that compromise patients’ quality of life and present a huge economic burden on the country.

The project aims to read/sequence the genome of our population in order to identify affected individuals and those at higher risk, offer appropriate preventive measures and lay the foundation for the development of personalized medical care within the region.

Having said that, the best of my achievements is having raised four achieving, dedicated, and highly cultured children; Ahmad, a mechanical engineer who owns a solar system company; Talal, a banker who is quickly climbing his career ladder; Faisal, who is in 11th grade and has a dream to become a pilot; and Sara, who is in 10th grade and has a great interest in mathematics and physics.

I believe that my country has given me a lot to be thankful for and I dedicate myself and my time to return the favor. I continue to strive to achieve more in my current roles and I always aim to move upwards.

This article was first published in Arab News

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