One of the nominees for the 2010 Alumni Awards (Issue 7, 2011)
Speaking only Arabic and with no family friends or support network, Hala managed to successfully start a life in Australia with fresh beginnings and exciting opportunities.
Hala’s academic achievements are quite remarkable. She completed a Bachelor of Medical Science at La Trobe in 2001 and her honours in pharmacology at RMIT in 2002 and a PhD at RMIT in 2007. Hala then returned to study at La Trobe and completed her Graduate Diploma in Business Administration in 2008 and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2010. Hala was awarded the Dean's Commendation for these degrees.
Currently working in the pharmaceutical industry, Hala found her MBA at La Trobe a perfect complement to her research background. It gave her an understanding of how a business works, how products are marketed and enabled her to learn about the commercial side of research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. This course equipped Hala with the commercial knowledge required to get a pharmaceutical product out to market.
Hala’s specialist area is cardiovascular research where she has strived to reduce the use of animals and animal products in research. She devised a testing system that predicts what effect non-cardiovascular drugs will have on the heart and has completed all her research using human cells rather than animal cells. Hala’s technique and results are as valid as the conventional animal models and her technique is likely to see the number of animals used in drug screening trials reduced.
Hala has received many awards, including the Australian Arabic Council - Young Arab Australian Achiever’s Award in Science (2005); the inaugural MAWA Trust (Medical Advances Without Animals) Postgraduate Scholarship (2003-2006); the Australian Museum Eureka Prize (2007); and she was listed (2007) as one of Melbourne’s Top 100 most powerful and innovative personalities for scientific and personal achievements in The Age Magazine.
Driven by her twin passions of addressing a history of cardiovascular disease in her family and her love of animals, this quiet, unassuming and humble young woman is pioneering new ways of medical research. Yet Hala has also demonstrated other outstanding personal qualities in keeping with her ethic, for example, by helping and mentoring students who have found study difficult.