CMNST DDLS - Dr. Hakima Amri Public Lecture

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 6:00pm

From Hippocrates to Avicenna to Biomedicine: Is there a Missing Link?


Dr. Hakima Amri, Associate Professor

Department of Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Georgetown University Medical Center

This is the final installment of the CMNST Dean's Distinguished Lecturer Series. This lecture takes place in Bank of America Rm 309 @ 6 p.m.. 

All are welcome to attend.


While the traditional medical systems, such as Traditional Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic Indian Medicine, and Naturopathy, just to name a few, are all well-documented in the United States, the Greco-Romano-Arabic medical system which contributed to renaissance remains largely unknown. The famous yet unknown Canon of Medicine, by the Arabic-speaking polymath of Persian origin Avicenna (ca. 980-1037 CE) is probably the largest encyclopedia of this medical system produced during the Middle Ages and taught in Eruope until the 17th century. The authors of the first direct translation from Arabic into English of the Canon will explain the historical context of the Greco-romano-Arabic medical system, also known as Unani Medicine, describe its concepts and principles, and reveal how this ancient medicine applies to our odern biomedical framework of the 21st century.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Amri, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology at Georgetown University and is the co-founder and co-director of the Integrative Medicine master’s program in Physiology, one of its kind graduate program in the United States that combines human physiology and integrative medicine. She is presently serving as Chair of the Teaching and Pedagogy Subcommittee of the Faculty Development Committee and on the Committee of Evaluation and Assessment of the medical courses offered at the Georgetown University Medical School.

Dr. Amri graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Developmental Biology from the University of Constantine, Algeria. After successfully completing the nationwide science competition (ranked first in the nation), she received a Franco-Algerian scholarship to pursue her graduate education at Pierre and Marie Curie University, Jussieu, Paris 6 where she obtained a Master’s of Science in Reproductive Biology and a PhD in Biochemistry. 

Dr. Amri’s research bridges evidence-based biomedicine and science-based integrative medicine to study hormone-dependent cancers. She is currently applying systems biology approaches to cancer omics data (genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) and diagnostic biomarkers discovery. Dr. Amri developed a novel analytical method based on applying parsimony phylogenetics called Phylomics® to heterogeneous high-throughput data of microarrays and mass spectrometry. This cladistics approach that is anchored in biological concepts provides the step-by-step molecular stratification from healthy to disease and offers the shared derived characters as biomarkers. Her work has sorted clonal aberrations from non-expanding mutations in prostate cancer, which is leading to the identification of key biomarkers to be developed as diagnostics. Because of its dynamic nature, Phylomics® detects those at risk of developing cancer, allows early detection, and evaluates treatment response. Her other line of research is in Phytomedicine  where she showed that treatment of nude mice with Ginkgo biloba extract significantly reduced the size of breast tumor xenografts. Similarly, she found that saw palmetto extract, commonly used for prostate health, reduced prostae cancer cell proliferation in vitro, and prostae cancer xenografts, in vivo. And she identified a novel cell death mechanism that was different from apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy, and mitotic catastrophe. Dr. Amri is currently characterizing this new cell death mechanism.

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