Yasmin Altwaijri

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Yasmin Altwaijri
Alma materKing Saud University, Tufts University
Scientific career
InstitutionsKing Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre
Doctoral advisorJohanna Dwyer

Yasmin Ahmed Almubarak Altwaijri is a Senior Scientist and the Head of Epidemiology Research at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSH&RC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[1][2] She looks at the number of times conditions such as obesity and mental illness occur in Saudi society. She also wants to make changes in the political and social system of Saudi Arabia to promote better health.[3]

Education[change | change source]

Altwaijri studied Community Health at King Saud University in Riyadh, receiving her B.Sc. in 1992.[2] After marrying, she and her husband moved to the United States to attend graduate school. Altwaijri studied with Johanna Dwyer, director of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.[4] She received her M.Sc. from Tufts University in 1996 and her Ph.D in 2002.[2] Her parents strongly encouraged her to have a professional career that would enable her to be financially independent.[1]

Career[change | change source]

Altwaijri moved from Boston to Saudi Arabia in 2002. She joined King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences and started to work for King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh where she leads the epidemiology research center.[5] She is considered one of the top senior scientists in the country.[6]

Altwaijri is concerned with epidemiological studies of the Saudi population, with particular attention to women, children and adolescents.[2]

One area she is working on is to develop pubertal growth standards for Saudi children. The only standards available to Saudi pediatricians have been based on pubertal characteristics of children in the United States. The problem is that Saudi children are different from American ones. Altwaijri is developing studies of Saudi children that will be sensitive to factors in Saudi life such as socioeconomic standards, diet, and geography.[1]

She also researches risk factors such as obesity, smoking, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and lack of exercise, which affect chronic diseases. She emphasizes the importance of social determinants of health and strongly advocates for social and political changes that would promote more healthy lifestyles.[2] She is particularly concerned about women, who are at a higher risk of developing obesity than Saudi men, in part because socio-cultural factors restrict opportunities for women to exercise and discourage women's participation in sports.[1] Altwaijri advocates for the inclusion of a physical curriculum for girls as well as boys in schools; creation of safe neighborhood play spaces for both male and female children; safe areas where adult men and women can be physically active; and affordable health clubs for both women and men. She also supports regulation of food prices to promote the choice of healthy over unhealthy foods.[1][3] To keep her children active, she enrolled them in competitive team swimming, where they became eligible to attend the AAU Junior Olympic Games.[7]

Altwaijri is a Principal Investigator for the Saudi National Mental Health Survey, a broad-based investigation assessing the impact of mental illness in Saudi communities.[2] No research into this area had been done previously in Saudi Arabia, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that five of the ten most burdensome diseases in the world involve mental health.[3] In addition to Saudi government and educational institutions, this research involves international collaboration with Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the World Health Organization.[2] The study, which was initiated in 2009, had the goal of visiting the homes of 5,000 men and women to interview people from across the country. 86% of interviewees were willing to participate.[4]

Women in science[change | change source]

Altwaijri chairs the Saudi Women in Science Committee, a national network of female scientists from Saudi Arabia.[1][2] She encourages Saudi women to enter scientific and technological fields,[2] arguing that women scientists can use electronic forms of communication to collaborate and do significant work without "cross[ing] the boundaries of our societal norms and customs."[1] She indicates that restrictions such as the ban on women drivers make it difficult for women to go to work or to visit a fitness center.[3]

Altwaijri is one of thirty-five women featured in the book Arab Women Rising, which includes women from Tunisia to Saudi Arabia.[8][9] She was included in the BBC's 2014 list featuring 100 Women internationally.[10]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Kaaki, Lisa (17 June 2010). "Yasmin Altwaijri: Mother, wife and scientist". Arab News. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "Project Principle Investigators". Saudi National Health and Stress Survey. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Zafar, Rahilla (24 December 2014). "Yasmin Altwaijri: A Saudi Scientist Tackles Mental Health and Obesity". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Flaherty, Julie (1 October 2015). "Breaking the Veiled Ceiling". Tufts Now.
  5. Farhat, Reine (28 December 2014). "Eight Arab women making an impact in their societies". Firnas. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  6. Elzeini, Sarah (5 January 2015). "The Curious Case of the Gulf Woman". Foreign Policy Blogs. Foreign Policy Association. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  7. "My Time in Saudi Arabia, Part IV". New York Social Diary. 20 August 2015.
  8. Morris, Jane Mosbacher (30 April 2014). "'Arab Women Rising' Profiles 35 Female Entrepreneurs Changing the World". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  9. Zafar, Rahilla; Syeed, Nafeesa (2014). Arab Women Rising: 35 Entrepreneurs Making a Difference in the Arab World. Knowledge@Wharton.[permanent dead link]
  10. "Who are the 100 Women 2014?". BBC News. 26 October 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2016.