Skip to main content

Outstanding professionals from the neuroscience field will be on hand for the Sixth Annual Raniyah T. Ramadan Symposium set for Wednesday, Jan. 24, beginning at 1 p.m. in East Central University’s Foundation Hall inside the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

The Ramadan Symposium, which is free and open to the public, is named in honor of the late Dr. Raniyah Ramadan, who was a research scientist in neuro-ophthalmology.

The symposium was established and is sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Tawfik Z. Ramadan, the parents of the late Raniyah Ramadan.

“Our daughter had a belief in promoting science and research, especially in the neuroscience field,” said Tawfik Ramadan. “We do this because we feel that we belong to ECU.”

The symposium will feature presentations from Dr. Holly Van Remmen, Dr. Michael Stout, Dr. Hibah Awwad and Hannah Taff, who graduated from ECU last May.

Van Remmen’s presentation is on “Motor Neuron – Skeletal Muscle Interactions in Age-Related Muscle Loss.” Stout will present “Reversing Age-Related Systemic Dysfunction with 17 alpha-estradiol.”

Awad’s presentation is “Consequences of a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): a closer look at neurotoxic factors.” Taff will present “Regulation of N/OFQ, a Neuropeptide Modulating Pain and Anxiety.”

Here are biographies on the three professional speakers:


Van Remmen is a member and program chair of the Aging and Metabolism program at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and a senior V.A. research scientist. She completed her Ph.D. in physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and stayed as postdoctoral researcher where she focused on gene expression and aging.

Van Remmen has won numerous awards including the Denham Harman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and the Gaylord Prize for Scientific Excellence in 2017. Her current research is focused on oxidative stress and mitochondrial function in aging.

She is specifically studying the role oxidative stress in modulating the relationship between motor neurons and skeletal muscle in sarcopenia. Van Remmen has published over 150 peer-review manuscripts and that work has led to a reevaluation of the role of oxidative stress in aging and a number of aging research models and assays.


Stout is a senior research scientist at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. Following the completion of his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in engineering technology and exercise physiology, respectively, Stout received his Ph.D. in nutrition and metabolism from The Ohio State University.

Additionally, he completed a postdoctoral assignment at the Mayo Clinic where he studied aging and metabolism. His primary research interest lies in attempting to uncover the mechanisms that promote obesity and age-related metabolic dysfunction so that translational therapeutic modalities can be developed that might prevent and/or reverse these perturbations.

His specific focus is on hormonal regulation of metabolism due to gender-specific disparities in metabolic disturbances and the incidence of various related diseases.


Awwad is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. After graduating with a pharmacy degree from Amman University in 1988, she earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Houston in 2005. Awwad’s postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute and at the OU Health Sciences Center, provided her with experience in molecular, behavioral and neuro-pharmacology.

She has received numerous teaching and research award, including the Educator of the Year award and the Provost’s Early Career Teaching Award in 2017.

Awwad has established her research laboratory and her current research revolves around understanding neurotoxic mechanisms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The goal of her research is to discover pharmacotherapeutic targets with potential neuroprotective mechanisms that will prove to be successful in translational research for TBI patients.


Taff was a biology undergraduate student at ECU and participated in the Raniyah Ramadan Research program at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center last summer.

Prior to that experience, she carried out two research projects at ECU. Those projects were focused on the electron microscopic analysis of turtle bone structure and the characterization of pathogenic fungi associated with imported and native melons.

Since graduating with her bachelor of science degree in May 2017, the Oklahoma City resident has continued her work in medical research and plans to attend either graduate school or medical school in the future.


Share this post