Maternal and Child Health Scholarship Program

Student Stories

The MatCH Program has admitted a wide variety of students since its inception in 2012. Below are some of their stories about being a part of the program and its benefits.


Abdalla Abdrabou

Department of Medical Genetics

Abdalla joined the MatCH Program in May 2018 and quickly became the program's unofficial ambassador, welcoming new students to the University of Alberta and helping them settle in to their new environment. “All throughout my life I’ve been helped by mentors, so I’ve developed the habit of giving something back,” he says, recalling how much people helped him when he first arrived here. He has been interested in Medical Genetics since his first day in University, and is working on answering the question: "Why does some breast cancer metastasize and some doesn't?" with his supervisor, Dr. Zhixiang Wang.

Read more about Abadalla's experience in the MatCH Program here.


Noureen Ali

Department of Pediatrics

Noureen’s focus is on osteosarcoma, which disproportionately affects the 13-to-20 age group. “Osteosarcoma is quite aggressive,” says Noureen, “and in the majority of cases, by the time it is diagnosed, it has already spread to other parts of the body, most commonly the lungs.” Noureen is working with her supervisor, Dr. Sujata Persad (also a MatCH co-founder) on a potential biomarker, whose levels in a tumour could show the severity of illness and help predict courses of treatment. Noureen started in the MatCH program in January 2016 after completing an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.

Learn more about Noureen's project and experience at the University of Alberta here.


Mackenzie Coatham

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Mackenzie joined the MatCH Program in January 2015, and chose Dr. Lynne Postovit's lab to complete her PhD. She is the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology's first PhD student, and her research focuses on dedifferentiated endrometrial cancer. She completed an undergraduate and a graduate degree at the University of Lethbridge prior to her application to the MatCH Program, and was the recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral Award (2017), the U of A William Herbert Young Cancer Research Graduate Studentship (2016) and a Women and Children’s Health Research Institute studentship (2016).

More on Mackenzie's research project can be found here.


Hossein Doosti

Department of Pediatrics

Hossein obtained an undergraduate and a master's degree prior to joining the MatCH Program in September 2017. During an intensive 10-day pregnancy-immunology seminar in Italy (funded by an award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Hossein began to sense that all signs were pointing him to a future in pediatrics. “After talking with the different professors there, I realized I wanted to work for children,” Hossein recalls. The standard of care for babies who experience a lack of oxygen and blood flow in the weeks just before and after delivery is decreasing body temperature, and his research with supervisor Dr. Jerome Yager focuses on exactly what is happening during the treatment and why it is effective.

Hossein's full interview regarding his research and experience in the MatCH Program can be found here.


Yuliya Fakhr

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

After growing up in "a culture where females don’t have equal opportunities," Yuliya decided to dedicate her career to a field that focuses on women’s health. Yuliya's area of research is preeclampsia, which affects about eight per cent of babies; one in 20 born to preeclamptic mothers die. Those who survive experience a range of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders throughout their lives. In preeclampsia, the placental barrier—responsible for the exchange of oxygen, food and water—does not form properly. Yuliya works with her supervisor, Dr. Denise Hemmings, on the formation of the placental barrier. The MatCH program offered her room for growth, and helped her "discover [her] strengths and strengthened [her] weaknesses."

More about Yuliya's experience with personal growth and mentorship in the MatCH Program can be found here.