Dr. Sara Abdulla | Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Hamad Bin Khalifa University


Dr. Sara Abdulla

Dr. Sara Abdulla

Neurological Disorders Research Center
Qatar Biomedical Research Institute

College of Health and Life Sciences

  • Phone44546115


After completing her bachelor’s degree (BSc Hons) in Neuroscience from the University of Nottingham (UK), Dr. Sara Abdulla joined the University of Cambridge (UK), where she was awarded a PhD in Clinical Neurosciences. While at Cambridge, she focused mainly on neurodegeneration and demyelination (Multiple Sclerosis). Her investigations delved into a deeper understanding of oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) differentiation and transcriptional regulation in primary rat cultures, in vivo studies, OPC metabolism, neuronal precursor cell plasticity and spinal cord injury. Ultimately her goal was to identify potential targets that could lead to therapeutic avenues such as cell-based therapies or drug development.

Dr. Abdulla is passionate about neuroscience as she believes it is a field that is essential and growing. Her aim is to lead Qatar into a research-based society, becoming a part of the-on going discoveries in the field, and focusing on neuroscience related diseases and disorders that are prevalent to the region. Her current research aims at identifying biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder, a multifactoral, neurodevelopmental disorder, that is of major concern in Qatar and the GCC. Furthermore, she hopes to further stem cell research in neuroscience in Qatar not only because of its important impact into understanding fundamental biological properties, but also for their remarkable potential on the study of disease and its prevention, clinical applications, and drug discovery and development.

Research Interests

Dr. Abdulla’s research interest mainly focuses on a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind prenatal influences on neurodevelopment leading to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), has been considered to be a pervasive developmental disorder, that tends to revel itself at around 18 - 36 months of age. Among the plethora of symptoms that are associated with it, the more common ones include pragmatic aspects in language development, an absence in symbolic play, an impairment in their ability to socialize, and the presence of repetitive or ritualistic behaviors. Unfortunately, the causes of ASD and the cellular mechanisms that contribute to the disorder are poorly understood. Hence, this has created challenges and limitations in the development of effective diagnostic methods and treatments, and no approved medications that treat the core symptoms of the condition. Consequently, identifying ways of lowering the risk of ASD, or preventing it at all has been a topic of great discussion. Unfortunately, the reasons behind its cause have yet to be fully understood. While a surplus of investigations focus on treatments on toddlers or teenagers, much of the severity of the condition would have already developed by then. Hence, it would be beneficial to approach the problem at an even earlier time point, a time point at which critical stages of neurodevelopment takes place, during pregnancy.


Scientific Project Coordinator of QBRI’s Interdisciplinary Research Program 

Project title: Identifying Potential Molecular Biomarkers for Autism Spectrum Disorder