The following are reflections from Hania Taha, a PhD student in Food Science and Human Nutrition, on her research project partially funded by an ACES International Graduate Grant: “Feasibility of a neoadjuvant modified-ketogenic diet clinical trial to improve cancer outcomes in gastrointestinal and head and neck cancers." Hania's advisor is Dr. Anna Arthur.
"I used the funds from the ACES Graduate Student International Research Grant to travel to Palestine with my advisor to initiate a research collaboration with the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem.
The AVH is the top specialized center of medical excellence in Palestine. It offers specialized treatments that are not available in other hospitals in Palestine, where it provides chemotherapy with high techniques and the only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories.
My advisor and I traveled to East Jerusalem for a week in August 2019, and we were able to successfully collaborate to plan our research. This initial trip was critical in the planning of the study, as well as for developing a strategy for securing additional grant support for the study.
During our visit, we met with research and clinical contacts, including the head and neck cancer oncologists, medical oncologists, dietitians, the social worker, the CEO, the head of laboratory, the head of kitchen, and others, individually and in groups. We discussed our research plan and received some clinical and research feedback and suggestions. We adjusted our research plan accordingly and signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the AVH, represented by the hospital’s CEO, and UIUC, represented by Dr. Anna Arthur (PI of the project). The AVH committed to participating in this research, and to providing logistical, infrastructural, and funding support that will cover laboratory tests and meals during our two-year project. This project will be the beginning of more projects between the AVH and UIUC. Many thanks to the ACES Office of International Programs for the funds to travel to East Jerusalem to initiate this project."