ACC | Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP)
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Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP)

About us

The Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP) is a major capacity building program at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Spearheaded by Principal Investigator and Program Director, Dr. Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, SHARP is an interfaculty collaborative effort across campus faculty that provides graduates with the required foundations to pursue a career in clinical and translational research. It is the first-of-its-kind in the region and a successful model of similar programs available in several top-tier academic institutions in the US, It equips trainees with management and leadership skills needed to become “change agents” and lead research groups, academic departments, or other healthcare settings.


The move to the Daniel ACC building coincides with SHARP’s 5th year as an established master’s program at AUB. This move will bring the SHARP offices closer to campus, the Medical Center, and other relevant research facilities such as CRI and IRB, amongst others.



The mission of the Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is to provide superior didactic education complemented with state-of-the-art interactive and practical training in health research, with a focus on non-communicable diseases research. It is intended for physicians and other healthcare professionals, to improve and advance the healthcare agenda for non-communicable diseases in Lebanon and the region.



SHARP’s vision is to:

Acquire essential skills to conduct clinical and translational research
Engage a diverse pool of students from multiple relevant disciplines
Advance the healthcare agenda of non-communicable diseases in the region



The American University of Beirut (AUB) was awarded a five-year grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2012 to establish the new interdisciplinary program, the Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP). AUB’s application competed successfully against several first-tier academic centers within the US and other international applications. The NIH granted 14 full awards of which only two were outside the US, AUB being one of them.
Since 2013, SHARP has been offering yearly summer certificates from which 103 students have graduated. In addition, SHARP provides intermediate research training for SHARP summer graduates and accordingly, students have the opportunity to solidify their research skills and publish their projects. Finally, SHARP offers an MS program in Health Research. To date, three students have graduated with an MS degree, and seven are currently enrolled in the MS program.


SHARP offers three different types of trainings:

  • Short term training: Twelve- credits summer certificate which provides the fundamental skills in the essential disciplines to conduct research, namely epidemiology, biostatistics, research ethics, library sciences/informatics, and involves hands-on training in the analysis and reporting of large health related datasets in non-communicable diseases.
  • Intermediate training: This training is for students who complete the summer certificate but do not enroll in the MS program. It allows students to continue working on projects that they had started during their Large Datasets Analysis course in the summer certificate under the mentorship of the Summer Program Director, Dr. Robert Habib. It provides them with the opportunity to solidify their research skills and publish their projects.
  • Long term training: Forty- credits MS Program which builds on the foundations/credits acquired in the summer certificate program that are pre-requisites and constitute an inherent part of the Master’s degree. It adds additional required courses, electives, the longitudinal seminar series, and thesis. It provides graduates with the required foundation to pursue a career in clinical and translational research focusing on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Faculty and Staff

Led by Dr. Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, SHARP is an interfaculty collaborative effort involving co-investigators from the Faculty of Medicine (FM), Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), and Hariri School of Nursing (HSON).

The SHARP Executive Committee consists of Drs. Ghada El Hajj Fuleihan, Robert Habib, Abla Sibai, and Huda Huijer.

Members of the local Training Advisory Group (TAG) include Drs. Kamal Badr, Ali Abu-Alfa, and Rabih Talhouk.

The external US TAG group includes Drs. Gordon Williams and Ellen Seely at Harvard Medical School, Fran Cook at Harvard School of Public Health.

Faculty members serving as mentors and/or teachers in SHARP include Drs. Elie Akl, Thalia Arawi, Mona Nabulsi, Rami Mahfouz, Hani Tamim, Marlene Chakhtoura, and Ms. Laila Al Shaar from FM, Monique Chaaya, and Lilian Ghandour from FHS, and Souha Fares from HSON, Dr. Ziyad Mahfoud and Ms. May Al Kassar from Weil Cornell Qatar.

Staff members include Program Coordinator, Rima Kaddoura, , and IT, Moodle and Webmaster , Ali Hammoudi.

Community Outreach

SHARP graduates join from multiple institutions in Lebanon including: Lebanese American University, Haigazian University, University of Balamand, Beirut Arab University, and Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. Since the launching of the program , SHARP has graduated a total of 7 applicants from multiple educational institutions (non AUB) in Lebanon.

SHARP also has a regionally diverse group of trainees, with applicants from: Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and the United Kingdom. Since its launching, SHARP has graduated a total of 8 applicants from the region.


Publications, manuscripts, and abstracts to date include:

  1. Impact of prior intracoronary stenting on late outcomes of coronary artery bypass surgery in diabetics with triple-vessel disease. Victor Nauffal*, Thomas A. Schwann, Maroun Yammine*, Abdul-Karim El-Hage-Sleiman*, Mohamad El Zein*, Ameer Kabour, Milo C. Engoren, and Robert H. Habib*. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2015 May;149(5):1302-9.
  2. CABG Versus PCI: Greater Benefit in Long-Term Outcomes With Multiple Arterial Bypass Grafting. Habib RH*, Dimitrova KR, Badour SA*, Yammine MB*, El-Hage-Sleiman AK*, Hoffman DM2, Geller CM, Schwann TA, Tranbaugh RF. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Sep 29;66(13):1417-27
  3. Hypovitaminosis D in Bariatric Surgery: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies. Marlene Chakhtoura*, Nancy Nakhoul*, Khaled Shawwa*, Christos Mantzoros, Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan*. Endocrine Society’s 97th Annual Meeting & Expo 2015, San Diego, California.
  4. Is the prevalence of diabetes increasing in Lebanon? Nancy Nakhoul*, Hani Tamim, Youssef Mouneimne, Lara Nasreddine, Mohamad Ghassan Abiad, Hussain Ismaeel, and Mona Nasrallah. Endocrine Society’s 97th Annual Meeting & Expo 2015, San Diego, California
  5. Tumor Induced Osteomalacia Associated with a Giant Cell Tumor Mimicking inguinal Lymphnode, A Lesson to Learn From Each Case. Nancy Nakhoul*, Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan*, Mohammad Haidar, Mahmoud Shoucair, Mukbil Hourani, Asma Arabi*. Endocrine Society’s 97th Annual Meeting & Expo 2015, San Diego, California.
  6. Eight-year Target Lesion Revascularization Rates in Bare Metal Versus First and Second Generation Drug Eluting Stents: Analysis of 22,957 Stented Lesions. Sanaa Badour*, Yumiko Kanei, Kamellia Dimitrova, Joseph Habib, John Fox, Robert Tranbaugh, Thomas Schwann, Samir Alam, Robert Habib*. American College of Cardiology 2015, San Diego, California.
  7. Increased Late Benefit of Multi-arterial CABG Compared to Intra-coronary Stenting in Multivessel Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery Disease. Robert Habib*, Robert Tranbaugh, Kamellia Dimitrova, Maroun Yammine*, Abdul-Karim El-Hage-Sleiman*, Darryl Hoffman, Charles Geller, Thomas Schwann. American Association for Thoracic Surgery 2015, Seattle, WA.
  8. Drug Eluting Stent Implantation in Multivessel Coronary Artery Disease Reduces the Adverse Effect of Diabetes on Late Outcomes when Compared to Bare Metal Stent. Sanaa Badour*, Kamellia Dimitrova, Yumiko Kanei, Robert Tranbaugh, Mark Hajjar, Ameer Kabour, Thomas Schwann, Robert Habib*. American Heart Association 2014, Chicago.
  9. Incremental Survival Benefit of One, Two and Three Arterial Bypass Grafting in Multivessel Coronary Artery Disease: The Effect of Diabetes. Thomas Schwann, Abdul-Karim El-Hage-Sleiman*, Maroun Yammine*, Robert Tranbaugh, Kamellia Dimitrova, Darryl Hoffman, Milo Engoren, Robert H. Habib*. American College of Cardiology 2014 Washington DC.
  10. Role of Completeness of Revascularization in Intermediate and Late Survival after Multivessel Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery Maroun Yammine*, Abdul-Karim El-Hage-Sleiman*, Thomas Schwann, Milo Engoren, Robert Habib*. American College of Cardiology 2014 Washington DC.
  11. Chakhtoura M*, Nakhoul N*, Akl EA, Mantzor C, El Hajj Fuleihan G**. Hypovitaminosis D in Bariatric Surgery: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies, submitted to Metabolism Clinical and Experimental Journal, 2015.
  12. Chakhtoura M*, Nakhoul N*, Akl EA, Mantzoros C, El Hajj Fuleihan G**. Vitamin D replacement in Bariatric surgery: A critical appraisal of current guidelines, submitted to Metabolism Clinical and Experimental Journal, 2015.

Chakhtoura MT*, Nakhoul N*, Akl EA*, Mantzoros CS, El Hajj Fuleihan G*. Guidelines on vitamin D replacement in bariatric surgery: Identification and systematic appraisal. Metabolism. 2016

Certificate Program

Students accepted into the summer program attend a 7- week intensive program which provides them with the fundamental skills to conduct research. Once they have successfully completed the course requirements, they graduate with a 12 -credits certificate. The number of students attending the certificate program in the summer has been steadily growing ever since the first SHARP Summer Certificate was launched in 2013. This number has increased from 18 students in 2013, to 25 in 2014, 29 in 2015, and 31 in 2016. Students attending the program come from different backgrounds including: Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacology, Biology, Public Health, and Nutrition.

MS Degree

The MS degree is jointly granted by the Faculty of Medicine (FM) and the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at AUB. It is a forty- credits’ MS Program that provides graduates with the required foundation to pursue a career in clinical and translational research focusing on non-c diseases (NCDs). There are currently a total of seven students pursuing the SHARP MS program. Since the program was launched, we have had: three graduates of the SHARP Summer Program 2013, four graduates of the SHARP Summer 2014 Program, two graduates of the SHARP Summer 2015 program, and one graduate of the SHARP Summer 2016 program..

Faculty and Students’ Awards

SHARP faculty and students have been awarded several times over the years both nationally and internationally. Below is a list of the awards received in reverse chronological order.

  • In January 2017, SHARP graduates’ manuscript “Safety of Concomitant Cholecystectomy at the Time of Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy: Analysis of the ACS- NSQIP Database”, was accepted in the Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, the official journal of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Dr. Hanaa Aridi, Dr. Hebah El Rayess, Dr. Hussein Abou Abbass, and Dr. Ibrahim Abu Gheida, are graduates of the SHARP Summer 2015 certificate. The manuscript is the fruit of a project they had started in the Analysis and Reporting of Large Clinical Datasets course in SHARP Summer 2015 under the mentorship of SHARP Summer Program Director Dr. Robert Habib.
  • In December, 2016, SHARP MS graduate, Dr. Karine Feghali’s abstract “Prophylactic Cranial Irradiation (PCI) in Patients with Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” has been accepted for the resident oral presentation at the 2017 American College of Radiation Oncology meeting in March. The abstract stems from Dr. Feghali’s thesis work in fulfillment of her SHARP MS degree which she earned in Summer 2016.
  • Huda Huijer, SHARP executive committee member, was honored by the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame in July 2016.
  • SHARP summer 2013 graduate, Dr. Rami Kantar, has received the Intern of the Year Award, Best Junior Resident Teaching Award, and highest Absite Score Award during the annual surgical graduation dinner at the University of Maryland Medical System in July 2016.
  • Marlene Chakhtoura, SHARP MS graduate, received the Best Proposal Award from the Faculty Advancement Program (FAP) in June 2016.
  • Ghada El Hajj Fuleihan, Director, was awarded the International Excellence in Endocrinology Award by the Endocrine Society in March 2016.
  • Marlene Chakhtoura, SHARP MS graduate, was selected for ASBMR Phoebe Leboy Professional Development Award, and received the plaque at the President’s reception in October 2015.
  • Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, Director, gave a presentation on NCDs at the Fogarty Advisory Board Meeting that was held on May 12, 2015 at the NIH campus.
  • Marlene Chakhtoura, SHARP MS student graduate, was selected by the Endocrine Society to receive a travel award to attend Early Career Forum at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting and expo in March, 2015.
  • SHARP Summer 2013 graduate, Dr. Victor Nauffal, was selected by the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention to participate in the “US Ten day Cardiovascular Epidemiology Seminar” in August 2014.
  • SHARP Summer 2013 graduates, Drs. Victor Nauffal, Abdul Karim Sleiman, Maroun Yammine, and Mohammad El Zein won the Research day 2014 Lebanese Association for the Advancement of Science Award in April 2014.
Abstract Presentations
  • The abstract of SHARP summer 2015 graduates, Jana Jabbour, Dr. Adham Abou Ali, Dr. Wissam Rabeh, and Grace Hakim, was presented at the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) annual conference in Austin, Texas in January 2016.
  • Abstract of SHARP summer 2013 graduates, Dr. Elie Ramly and Dr. Rami Kantar, was selected to be presented at the ASBMS Obesity Week in November 2014 in Boston.
  • Marlene Chakhtoura, SHARP MS student graduate, presented her work at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, Houston in September 2014.
  • SHARP Poster was presented by Dr. Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, Director, at the NIH Conference in September 2014.

SHARP graduates- Where they are now:

SHARP Certificate program graduates have been recruited in top ranking institutions. They are Research Fellows, Residents, and Research Associates at institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, Brigham and Women’s hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Under the umbrella of capacity building, some are now junior faculty such as Dr. Marlene Chakhtoura who is an Instructor of Clinical Specialty at AUB, and Dr. Maya Barake who is an Endocrinologist at CMC. Dr. Eman Sbaity, current MS student, is also an      Instructor of Clinical Specialty at AUBMC.