February 15, 2011

Dean David Hajjar Receives Fulbright Scholarship

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Correction appended

David P. Hajjar, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, received a Fulbright grant to develop biological sciences research initiatives between Qatar University and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the University announced Monday.

Hajjar is the second faculty member from the medical college to be named a Fulbright grantee.

The dean was named to the Fulbright Specialist Program, a professorial scholarship that funds recipients for two- to six-week projects, and he will start working in the Middle East this semester.

“I chose Qatar because I see that country as a place that could use my help,” Hajjar said. “Considering that we already have a medical college there, it seemed quite reasonable to [work there].”

Hajjar’s project will consist of working with biological science faculty at Qatar University — the country’s largest public university — and trying to develop more research ties with Cornell.

“I’m trying to help them educationally and help them research-wise to get them more collaboratively linked with Cornell’s Qatar medical college,” Hajjar said.

Qatar University has a robust program in genetics and should cooperate more with Cornell’s medical school to pool resources, Hajjar said.

Additionally, Hajjar will spend much of his time collaborating with Qatari undergraduate students in an attempt to prepare them for the medical profession.

“I want to try to get the Qatari undergraduates to be more interested in medicine,” Hajjar said. “By starting medical programs there, we’ll get them better trained for them to attend medical school.”

Cornell’s Qatar campus opened in 2001 after Qatar’s government established a multi-million-dollar, non-profit foundation. The medical school includes a faculty of more than 60 professors, according to its website.

Hajjar began teaching in Cornell’s biochemistry department in1978 and served as dean of the graduate school since 1997. He also holds the record for being the youngest faculty member to earn tenure at the University, at age 33.

Administered by the State Department, the Fulbright program entails a lengthy application process as Hajjar was formally nominated by President David Skorton and Prof. Barry Coller, Rockefeller University.

Last year, approximately 20-30 professors were named Fulbright Specialists.

“From what I understand, there are quite a significant number of people who are nominated for the scholars program — I was nominated for the Fulbright Specialist Program for the more senior group of people,” Hajjar said.

“Through his leadership in building our own research and education enterprise at Weill Cornell, and as an accomplished, brilliant scientist himself, Dr. Hajjar is uniquely qualified to offer expert guidance to our friends and colleagues in Qatar,” Skorton stated in the Cornell Chronicle.

“I extend my congratulations and wish him well in this important undertaking,” Skorton said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified David Hajjar as the dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. In fact, he is dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

Original Author: Max Schindler