Washington Update

Arab American Heritage Month Celebrates Diversity of Arab Community

By: France-Elvie Banda
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Since 2017, Arab America and the Arab American Foundation have promoted Arab American Heritage Month to highlight the Arab community’s contributions to society and celebrate its rich culture. The grassroots effort began with a network of more than 250 Arab American volunteers gathering proclamations from their respective states, counties, and municipalities. Together, the organizations have developed educational resources, which are available to organizations and educators, to combat stereotypes and misconceptions about the Arab community. In April 2021, President Biden officially declared April Arab American Heritage Month.

The Arab American community is comprised of individuals with roots in more than 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa regions. This diverse community includes various languages, religions, and cultural traditions. Arab American Heritage Month allows us the opportunity to reduce bigotry aimed at the Arab American community through education and increased visibility.

 Many Arab American scientists have made great strides in biological and biomedical research. In observance of Arab American Heritage Month, FASEB notes a few commendable examples:
•    Huda Yahya Zoghbi, MD–Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, and Director of the Duncan Neurological Research Institute, Zoghbi’s advancements as a geneticist made it possible to define genetic mechanisms responsible for neurological disorders like Rett syndrome and Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. 
•    Anthony Atala, MD–Famous for creating the first 3D bioprinters, Atala’s team created the first implantable lab-grown bladder.  As a result of scientific innovations, Atala has been awarded the World Technology Award in Health and Medicine. He is currently Professor of Urology and Director of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
•    Yasmine Belkaid, PhD–Senior investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and the director of the NIAID Microbiome program, Belkaid is well respected for her research in host-microbe interactions in tissues and immune regulation to microbes. Her research focuses on investigating the role of microbiota in promoting immunity against infection.
•    Mounir Laroussi, PhD–Laroussi, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Old Dominion University, is well known for his work in plasma science. The Plasma Pencil, his best-known invention, can generate long plumes of low-temperature plasmas and is expected to be used in various biomedical applications.