Arab Health Research Program
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Yara Mohamad, MD
Director, Arab Health Research Program

Dr. Yara Mohamad was born in Syria, raised in Damascus and educated at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Damascus, ( كلية الطب في جامعة دمشق‎), Syria. After her graduation in 2002 and driven by a great passion for teaching, she taught English, science, and math in elementary schools in the suburbs of Damascus for almost a year before starting her residency program in pediatrics in the prominent Teshreen Military Hospital. In the meanwhile, she worked at a low cost clinic in the suburbs of Damascus with other doctors who also wanted to help the poor and underserved receive good services with dignity. In 2006 she had the opportunity to continue her residency program in the prestigious Royal Commission Medical Center in Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah in the west region of Saudi Arabia, where she had the chance to meet outstanding physicians and health care workers of different nationalities, backgrounds and life experiences and also she met a completely different community with different properties and different challenges which enriched her human awareness medical wise and social wise. In 2008 she went back to Damascus to obtain her degree as a pediatrician, and to continue her clinical practice and her teaching passion in schools in the Suburbs of Damascus.

In 2011 Dr. Yara joined her husband in the USA where she faced new challenges as an immigrant. Like most immigrants, she didn’t know where to start in her new world, how to navigate in an unfamiliar community with no acquaintances nor road maps, or how to be the active and efficient individual she used and loves to be. She had to overcome her cultural shock, and to regain her sense of direction while her family, still in Syria, lives under the terrible conditions of the current war.

Aoss Albumalalah, MBBS, PhD
Associate Director, Arab Health Research Program

Dr. Albumalalah received his medical education at Mustansiriya University (الجامعة المستنصرية) College of Medicine, Baghdad, Iraq. One of the oldest universities in the world, Mustansiriya Madrasah, was established in 1227 A.D. by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustansir on the left bank of the Tigris River, and survived the Mongol invasion of 1258. After graduating in 1992, Dr. Albumalah obtained his Board certification in General Surgery in 2007 and in 2012 his Board subspecialization in gastrointestinal tract and liver surgery. Throughout two major wars and civil strife In Iraq, and surviving the January 2007 Baghdad Mustansiriya University bombing, Dr. Albumalalah maintained a dedicated professional life with thousands of surgical interventions, research work, conferences, training in Turkey, teaching medical students and residents. He had a Senior Surgeon specialist position at Baghdad University Teaching Hospital until July 2013 when he came as a refugee to United States. His intention is to rebuild his career as a surgeon in the USA and to contribute to promoting the health and well being of the Arab refugee community of Greater Sacramento Metropolitan Area. A native of Iraq, Dr. Albumalalah is fluent in Arabic and English.

Marwa Eldeeb, MD
Assistant Director, Arab Health Research Program

Born in Egypt, graduated from Ain Shams University, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo, one of the largest and best educational medical institutions in Africa and the Middle East, and one of the most prominent medical schools in the world. The name "Ain Shams", is the Arabic for "Heliopolis", or "O'n", which was the oldest university in history established 5,000 years ago as a center of knowledge and learning, especially in astronomy, engineering and medicine. The first world-famous "O'n" faculty was Imhotep, the chief priest, minister, and architect, who in 2700 BC designed at Saqqara the first large-scale cut stone construction known in history, the step pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser (Zoser), the first king of the 3rd Dynasty. After her graduation in 1999, Marwa has completed her internship at Mustashfa Manshiyat al Bakri al `Amm Hospital in Cairo, and her residency training in internal medicine and dermatology at Cairo Police Hospital.

Fluent in Arabic and English, Marwa has many years of experience with working with patients from different cultures and different backgrounds . In the USA after taking extensive coursework in sociology and interpersonal communication, Marwa is currently in a Master in Public Health degree program and is also completing a Clinical Research and Management certification at University of California, Berkeley. A former immigrant herself, Dr. Eldeeb is dedicated to helping people start a new life in the US. She believes that all refugees should have their basic human rights protected, live in safety, keep their families together, have a home, send their children to school, receive psychological counseling for past traumas and acculturation challenges, integrate successfully in America, preserve their religion and identities with the best of both worlds, and look forward to tomorrow with hope, strength, and civic confidence.

Dina Al-Sadek, MD
Medical & Psychosocial Counselor, Arab Health Research Program

Dr. Dina Al-Sadek is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Damascus, ( كلية الطب في جامعة دمشق‎), Syria, with work experience in internal medicine at King Fahd Hospital in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Al-Sadek has extensive experience in community health, including screenings, treatments, health education, and health promotion campaigns which she intends to offer to the Arab refugee communities of Sacramento. Fluent in English and Arabic and serving refugees undergoing health screenings at Sacramento County Refugee Health Clinic, Dr. Al-Sadek is pursuing further education and training in counseling psychology to provide mental health services to traumatized Arab families as well as to patients suffering from the acute or chronic distress associated with medical disorders and surgical interventions.


Sarah Sabbagh, MPH
Research Associate, Arab Health Research Program

Sarah has obtained her B.A degree in Public Health with a Minor in French from UC Berkeley and her MPH at UCD School of Medicine. She worked at the Health Policy and Planning Division of the San Mateo County Health System, where she participated in projects regarding school wellness policies that encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity among youth. Interning at the Kinship Youth Program and the City of Berkeley's Public Health Division developed Sarah's interest in serving underserved populations by promoting health development and providing them with resources to create a strong, healthy community. Sarah hopes to empower disadvantaged communities of diverse backgrounds on a national and international level. Of Lebanese origin, Sarah is fluent in Arabic. At VIRTIS, Sara is assisting Dr. Yara Mohamad with surveying the health needs and the cultural competence of mental health services for Arab refugees and immigrants.

Rahaf Baker, BS, MPH student
Research Associate, Arab Health Research Program

While an undergraduate at University of California, Irvine, Rahaf founded the Shifa Clinic of Orange County in order to address the needs of the city of Garden Grove- one of the state's most underserved populations and underserved areas lacking access to free clinics. As a Strauss Scholar, Rahaf addressed diabetes and chronic disease in the community through screening, education, prevention, and referrals, and developed a diabetes and lifestyle changes educational series for the community. She developed a clinic which continues to run weekly and serves over 100 patients every month. Through her medical relief work after Haiti's earthquake, she has developed a greater understanding of the global disparities in healthcare and a commitment to eliminating them. Her work has been recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative, where she now serves as the Access to Healthcare Mentor, advising over 70 health initiatives around the world. A Syrian-American, Rahaf is fluent in Arabic and English, has an intermediate proficiency level of Spanish, and a basic level of French.


Noor Mashal
Clinical Intern, Arab Health Research Program

Noor is a seventeen year old Palestinian girl, born and raised in America, who attends Bella Vista High School and also works as a medical assistant in a hospital emergency room. An avid learner passionate about science courses, Noor is taking honors and AP classes in high school, planning to start her college education next year. Loves being active within her community; in her sophomore through junior year of high school she served over 400 hours of community service and raised money to feed homeless children and women in Sacramento. Fluent in Arabic and English (also learning Spanish in school, Noor is also a teacher assistant at SALAM (Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims) Center, teaching fifth graders Arabic reading and writing and Islamic history. It's not easy growing up in America as an Arab teenage girl, but her close relationship with her family helped her overcome obstacles and achieve her goals in making a difference within the community, especially her Arab community. Her long term career goal is to become a medical doctor. She created a school club at Bella Vista High School called "Helping Hands" which is successful in providing an organized and monitored opportunity for young people to volunteer at local shelters and schools. Fluent in Arabic and fond of traveling and staying connected with her roots, Noor travels with her family to the Middle East every other summer; in 2013 she worked in a community project in Jordan to make a difference in people’s lives.



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