Tariq Adwan '05, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Alpha Genomix of Lawrenceville, Georgia, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Misericordia University Convocation Ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Amphitheater.
"As a Misericordia student, Tariq made headlines by creating a biology project for NASA that flew with the Space Shuttle Columbia – an international experiment to analyze the viability of life in space. As a graduate student, he studied gland dysfunction in cancer patients,'' said Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., president of Misericordia University. "Today, as a biopharmaceutical researcher, he carries with him the tenets of Mercy, Service, Justice and Hospitality as he works to improve pharmacology and genetic testing for patients around the globe. He is an extraordinary scientist who is sure to inspire our first-year students and their families as our Convocation speaker."
A native of Bethlehem, on the West Bank of Palestine, Adwan made the 10,000-mile trip from his home to the Misericordia campus in 2001 thanks to the efforts of Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM, a member of the Misericordia University Board of Trustees. Adwan's father, Dr. Sami Adwan, was a professor of education at Bethlehem University. Dr. Sami Adwan and his friend and colleague, Dr. Ben Bar-On, a member of the Jewish faith who taught at the University of Tel Aviv, had co-authored a series of supplemental textbooks for Muslim and Jewish high school students in Israel and Palestine. Dr. Rittner, a chaired scholar of Holocaust studies at Stockton State University, knew the scholars because of their respective work in the Middle East peace process. She encouraged Tariq to attend Misericordia.
As a sophomore, Tariq participated in designing and helping prepare an experiment that was placed on the 16-day Columbia shuttle mission, "Growth of Bacterial Biofilm on Surfaces During Spaceflight," that was done under the direction of the Israeli Aerospace Medical Institute and Johnson Space Center Astrobiology Center. The experiment was promoted by the California-based Planetary Society. It combined two proposals, one from Tariq, submitted from his Misericordia residence hall, and another from Yuval Landau, a student at Tel Aviv University.
Sadly, the shuttle broke up on re-entry and all members of the crew, including the first Israeli astronaut, died on Feb. 1, 2003.
During his undergraduate career, Tariq collaborated in research with Dr. Larry Pederson, professor of chemistry, and conducted experiments with Dr. Angela Asirvatham, associate professor of biology and department chair, on the role of A-Kinase Anchoring proteins in the proliferation of Schwann cells.
Tariq graduated from Misericordia with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry with honors in 2005. In 2011, he earned his Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Colorado, specializing in stem cells and development. As a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, he received a number of grants and awards, including the National Institute of Health's National Research Service Award. In addition, he is a co-author on a number of high-impact peer reviewed publications and was invited to present his work at a number of scientific meetings, including the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Conference on Lipid Mediated Signaling in Cancer.
Before Joining Alpha Genomix, the Misericordia alumnus worked as an assistant professor at An-Najah National University, School of Medicine in Nablus on the Palestinian West Bank. As chief scientific officer at Alpha Genomix, he oversees all scientific, technological and research operations, and helps identify new opportunities for growth with industry partners. Alpha Genomix is a personalized medicine testing and molecular diagnostics laboratory for pharmacogenetics, the field of research on how a person's genetic makeup affects the individual's response to medications and drugs. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Georgia Gwinnet College, Lawrenceville, Georgia, where he teaches biology.
During the ceremony, the Misericordia University Alumni Association will present Tariq with the Young Alumnus Award. The award is bestowed, from time to time, to a traditional undergraduate alumna or alumnus who has graduated within the past 10 years and who has demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and/or community or civic service.
The annual Convocation ceremony welcomes first-year students and their families to Misericordia University, and acts as the official start to the new academic year. Orientation begins later in the afternoon and continues until the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 28. The orientation program includes the Orientation Day of Service in which first-year students and other members of the campus community volunteer in the region.