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A scientist and expert in pain striving to help as many people as possible
When Omar Mossad finished his bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy, he had a lot of options – so he explored them. Internships led him away from his home town of Cairo and towards new opportunities in Germany. Neuroscience captured his interest, so he completed a master’s degree and PhD in the subject. His fascination with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis carried him into some exciting roles in research. But Omar still kept seeking bigger challenges to investigate. “With time, I realised that many more people are affected by other disorders that have a broader heavy toll on the society,” he says. “Pain, for example, is a complex and multi-level phenomenon that can start from any place in the body. A lot is still unclear about it, so I was driven to pursue my curiosity and try to help as many patients as possible.”
The young scientist left his job as a researcher for neurodegenerative diseases and joined Grünenthal early in 2022. He is now a member of our Human Disease Mechanisms lab, Translational Disease Understanding Unit in Aachen. Every day, he joins forces with colleagues from different scientific disciplines to dig deeper into key areas of pain research. First, Omar seeks disease models for preclinical research that enable faster and more effective paths for new medicines to travel from the lab to the patient’s prescription. This involves cutting-edge research into emerging technologies like microfluidics or Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC). These have the potential to replace existing test methods. Second, Omar and his colleagues study the specific molecular mechanisms that result in chronic pain based on human/humanised models and human disease tissue. From examining specimens under the microscope to applying state-of-the-art bioinformatics techniques, they identify the genes, proteins and neurons that offer the most significant potential to be targeted with new pain medications.
“In a way, pain is like a box with many locked compartments. I am determined to figure out the ways to unlock them.”
It is estimated that around one in five people worldwide suffers from chronic pain . For Omar Mossad, the enormous potential positive impact of research into this area was simply too attractive to ignore. “As an aspiring scientist at the beginning of my career, I saw potential to grow here as a researcher. I like working in a multi-disciplinary group at Grünenthal with the pure motivation of serving an extensive scope of patients. It is great to belong to such a diverse team,” he says. “ In a way, pain is like a box with many locked compartments. Together with my colleagues, I am determined to figure out the ways to unlock them – and make a real-world impact on patients around the globe.”