KAUST researchers named Lindau Nobel Laureates

2023 Lindau Nobel Laureates from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology: Hajar Al-Zarah (left) and Asma Al-Amoodi (right), doctoral students in the Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering Division (BESE). A third laureate, BESE PhD candidate Walaa S. Khushaim, will also attend the event. Photo: KAUST / J. Ricamara 2023

Three researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) are among some 600 young scientists from around the world invited to attend the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, June 25-30, 2023. Asma Al-Amoodi, Walaa Khushaim and Hajar Al-Zarah are recognized for excellence in the fields of bioscience and bioengineering. The students are pursuing doctoral degrees in the KAUST Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE) Division.

  For more than seven decades, the small German town of Lindau on Lake Constance has hosted the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings for science’s brightest minds. The annual forum was launched in 1951 by Franz Karl Hein and Gustav Wilhelm Parade and opened itself up to graduates, Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers two years later. Each meeting revolves around a different scientific focal point. The 72nd edition is dedicated to physiology and medicine, with around 40 Nobel Laureates expected to contribute to a wide-ranging program of discussions and activities.

The Lindau meeting offers a unique networking opportunity. Each student will get the chance to listen to lectures, Agora Talks and panel discussions, and enjoy personal exchanges with the Nobel Laureates as well as the other young scientists representing various institutions the world over. 

Asma Al-Amoodi, PhD candidate, Bioscience

Portrait of KAUST PhD student Asma Al-Amoodi, 2023 Lindau Nobel Laureate. Photo: KAUST / J. Ricamara 2023

“Being one of the young scientists invited to this prominent gathering is an honor I will never forget,” Asma Al-Amoodi said. “There will be many scientists in my field to look up to at the conference, and I am confident that attending will fuel my scientific desire and lead to a noticeable, positive shift in my professional trajectory. I am thrilled to get the opportunity to represent KAUST at Lindau.”

Working closely with Professor of Bioscience Dr. Jasmeen Merzaban, Al-Amoodi’s primary research interest is in enhancing the migration of the long-term hematopoietic stem cells for therapeutic purposes. Viewed as ground-breaking research in translational medicine, the work centers around identifying and understanding the sugars and proteins on the surface of hematopoietic stem cells involved in the key mechanistic steps in the migration of cells in circulation.  

Of Yemeni descent, Al-Amoodi was born and educated in Saudi Arabia. Her ultimate ambition is to establish a research facility dedicated to cancer studies, staffed by the world's most eminent scientists.

”Serving others is important to me,” she added. “I hope to do so by helping those who are affected by long-term illnesses like leukemia, and to be a brilliant scientist who positively impacts the world.”

Walaa Khushaim, PhD candidate, Bioengineering

Portrait of KAUST PhD student Walaa S. Khushaim, 2023 Lindau Nobel Laureate. Photo: KAUST / J. Ricamara 2023


Ph.D. candidate Walaa Khushaim is working in close collaboration with Professor Khaled Nabil Salama in the Sensors Lab on the development of sensitive biosensors for the rapid detection of heart attack biomarkers.

“I became interested in this field because the development of biosensors would reduce the huge number of mortalities resulted from cardiovascular disease and other time-critical diseases,” Khushaim commented. “My dream is to connect such innovations to business and provide products that can serve people and improve quality of life.”

  Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Khushaim obtained a master’s degree from the University of Oxford in the UK after completing her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Queens University of Charlotte in the United States. Attending the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in June represents a potentially career defining moment.   

“This meeting will offer me a great opportunity to listen to and get inspired by Nobel Laureates in the field of physiology and medicine,” she said.  “It will also offer me a great opportunity for networking with many brilliant minds. This could open a door to possible collaborations for my current lab at KAUST or even my future lab at MIT with IBK fellowship.”

Hajar Al-Zarah, PhD candidate, Bioscience

Portrait of KAUST PhD student Hajar Al-Zarah, 2023 Lindau Nobel Laureate. Photo: KAUST / J. Ricamara 2023


Fellow Ph.D. student Hajar Al-Zarah works in the area of DNA nanotechnology in KAUST’s Molecular Imaging and Microscopy Lab, led by Professor Satoshi Habuchi. Her research specifically focuses on DNA-protein hybrid nanostructures using a variety of imaging techniques.

“The ability to visualize, design and manipulate materials at the nanoscale is captivating to me, as I work at this level of precision,” Al-Zarah commented. “Ultimately, I aspire to apply the knowledge I have acquired in this field and make a meaningful impact in the scientific community.”

Al-Zarah studied clinical pharmacy at King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia before joining KAUST, where she now contributes to the institution’s vision to propel the country to the forefront of the biotech sphere. Representing KAUST at the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is one small part of this. 

  “I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for this incredible opportunity, and I'm eager to learn from the Nobel Laureates and engage with other young researchers from around the world,” she added.

For more information on 2023’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, view the program and list of participants here.