- Special Pages
By Isabel Ovalle
Several complications can occur during pregnancy, causing abnormalities in children that can be avoided with early diagnosis and treatment. To identify and prevent such problems, a team at Qatar University, led by Dr Boualem Boashash, is working to improve the monitoring of unborn babies during pregnancy.
Professor Boashash, an engineer, was engaged in military research on radar and sonar systems until 1992. More than two decades ago, he felt it was time for a change and decided to invest his time and knowledge in medical projects.
At that time he was living in Queensland, Australia. He realised there was much that could be done to better assess the likelihood and severity of problems newborns could face at birth, especially strangulation by the umbilical cord, which can impact the brain in different ways and cause seizures.
“I realised that, from engineering point of view, I had dealt with similar issues in the military and used methods applied in radar, sonar and communications,” he said.
To research the application of those techniques in obstetrics, with the help of Qatar Foundation, he moved to Qatar three and a half years ago. Along with Australian colleagues from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research and the University of Melbourne’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Boashash is working under Qatar National Research Fund’s National Priorities Research Programme to find out how to best use those techniques for monitoring foetal health.
The professor explained: “There are two major variables in a signal — time and frequency. We are going to use these two variables concurrently. In the past, either time-delineated or frequency information was used, but not the two combined. That was like trying to represent a person by just looking at the height while the person’s weight and other factors were ignored.”