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Dr. Menattallah Elserafy on Galvanizing Future Scientists in the African Region

February 8, 2023

Dr. Menattallah (Menna) Elserafy is a full-time scientist, professor, mother, and more recently, an intellectual property (IP) enthusiast. She is a growing force in the genetics world for her research on the potential of yeast as a model organism in understanding DNA damage-associated diseases, such as neurological disorders and cancers.

Geneticist goal-getter

Photo: D&P Creative Studio

Her research won her the L’Oréal-UNESCO regional fellowship for Egypt and the Levant under the For Women in Science Programme in 2017, and she was later on selected as one of the Programme’s International Rising Talents for Africa and the Arab States in 2019. This achievement followed her feat of finalizing her Doctorate in Natural Sciences from Heidelberg University in Germany at the age of 25. As part of her award, she was invited to WIPO in 2019 to attend the second edition of the IP and Sciences training course for women scientists. During the training course, she was introduced to the importance of IP and authorship rights in scientific research, which sparked her newly found passion for IP.

Not many scientists are aware of the importance of IP to their work. They often consider it as a matter of concern for others at their universities and research institutions. This should change because they need to be active participants in the protection of their scientific work and contributions. I always make it a point to mix in information on IP, particularly on patents and copyright, when giving lectures and workshops.

Dr. Menattallah Elserafy, Assistant Professor at Zewail City of Science and Technology

Menna is currently an assistant professor at the Center for Genomics of Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt, she is also a Next Einstein Forum fellow and an African Academy of Sciences affiliate, who aims at contributing to making Africa a global hub for science and technology.

The more you know…

Since her participation in the IP and Sciences Training Course, Menna has enrolled in several WIPO Academy Distance Learning (DL) courses, including the Executive Course on IP and Genetic Resources in the Life Sciences (DL-427). She also participated in the 10th edition of the IP Asset Management for Business Professionals Course (AICC) in the Republic of Korea in 2019. After her participation in the AICC, Menna along with several other participants launched the IP Pioneers initiative. The initiative provides roving webinars to researchers on the impact of COVID-19 on the field of IP in terms of research, policy and practice, in addition to other topics that can help raise the IP awareness of researchers.

On a personal level, I find it very useful to be knowledgeable on IP as a scientist who meets with industry researchers and the industrial board at the university. It is essential to understand the basics of patents, when to publish your research, when to patent your work, and what you can commercialize to be able to keep up with and add to the discussions in these meetings.

Dr. Menattallah Elserafy, Assistant Professor at Zewail City of Science and Technology

As a scientist and educator based in her home country, Menna is motivated to give back to her community with her knowledge and research. She is determined to support and mentor as many students as possible, so that there is a significant growth in science graduates in Egypt.

Menna conducting research at the Center for Genomics in Zewail City of Science and Technology. (Photo: D&P Creative Studio)

Her biggest challenges as a scientific researcher in a developing country revolve around the logistics of importing chemicals for the laboratory, which often take months to arrive, thus slowing down research progress, in addition to the constant pressure to apply for grants to secure funding. The challenges she faces push her to think outside of the box so she can be resourceful in her research. This led her to delve deeper into multidisciplinary scientific research, such as bioinformatics, which enables her to focus on researching in a “dry lab” environment, whereby the research is done on the computer, bypassing the need for importing chemicals. Menna is very interested in science policy, particularly the top-down strategies that can increase the quality of research in developing countries. She is a fellow in several international societies that aim to elevate educational and research standards and support women in science.

With the support of her network, Menna wants to galvanize the next generation of multidisciplinary scientists in Egypt and the African Region, to enable them to not only contribute to groundbreaking scientific research, but also to maximize the commercial potential of their work for their community through IP.

Hoping to be the next IP-savvy scientist?

The WIPO Academy offers general and advanced distance learning courses on IP in seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) on the WIPO eLearning Center.

You can learn more about a range of IP topics including copyright, patents, trademarks, IP management, genetic resources, access to medical technologies, software licensing, exports and more. Participating in a DL course enables you to follow the lessons at your own pace, engage in discussions with IP experts and participants from all over the world, and receive an electronic WIPO certificate upon the successful completion of a course.

Registration for the current session of DL courses in 2023 is now open.

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