Science Health Education Center


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Our Vision and Mission

The unique Science Health Education (SHE) Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will empower the health care community in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to establish best practices in public health and medicine – stabilizing and strengthening the fabric of conflict-torn societies through health.

As a collaborative hub, the Center will promote research and capacity-building through international training and scientific investigation – creating synergies between MENA health care professionals and the Dana-Farber community.

View the SHE Center's 2023 Annual Report

Upcoming Webinar

Embracing Hope and Resilience: Cancer Survivorship Defined

Wednesday, June 26, 2024, 12 p.m. ET
A Conversation with Reem Al-Ajlouni, MS, and Navid Madani, PhD
Moderated by Ru'a Rimawi, MD
Register and send your questions

Our Goals

To draw upon the Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School communities to:

  • Promote best practices in medicine, scientific research, and standardization of health practices, with an emphasis on collaborative research to ensure long-term success in the MENA region.
  • Build the capacity of female clinicians, health care providers, and scientists in the MENA region to become agents of improvement, and build community-specific solutions to problems facing their local patient populations.
  • Make science, innovation, and health care improvements in the MENA region tangible by addressing infrastructure and capacity gaps through engagement, empowerment, and collaborative efforts.
  • Establish a two-way dialogue and training between scientists and health care providers in the MENA region and the Dana-Farber/Harvard community.
By focusing on capacity-building and empowerment of local people to take charge of their lives and communities, the Center will help foster an environment that supports critical thinking, freedom, accountability, and sustainability.
Rana Dajani, PhD, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Science Health Education (SHE) Center

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region struggles to provide health care and conduct medical research. The She Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute aims to empower the health care community in the Middle East and North Africa to establish best practices in public health and medicine. The Center links evidence-based scientific knowledge, societal, and regional education, with life-enhancing health outcomes in cancer and virology treatment.

Developing Health Care and Science Capacity in MENA Countries

In many conflict- and violence-torn MENA countries, unstable and underfunded health systems struggle to provide modern services — and are hampered by limited regional capacity in science and education.

As a result, health and education indications in MENA countries are extremely poor. Trends for cancer-related risk factors indicate that in the next 15 years, the region will see the world's largest increase in cancer incidence. The incidence of communicable diseases, such as HIV, is also on the rise.

The Science Health Education (SHE) Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute addresses health disparities in the region — aiming to develop effective health care and science implementation strategies that target disease, and building sustainable scientific and health infrastructure and capacity.

Using a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to MENA-region health and science capacity-building, Dana-Farber's SHE Center is fostering education, innovation, training, research excellence, and the dissemination of health care best practices across international borders.

Our highly skilled faculty from Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School are dedicated to training and mentoring, and are providing a framework to work collaboratively with MENA-region scholars in the United States and abroad.

The Center's Areas of Focus

The Center is focused on education and training in collaborative research and care, and the implementation of best practices in the MENA region. These areas build upon each other and are iterative – with capacity-building and research data forming a dynamic foundation for implementation that improves health.

We will measure outcomes based on our:

  • Increased understanding of MENA region-specific health needs.
  • Design and implementation of research-based strategies to prevent disease and promote health and care.
  • Development of an educated and highly trained regional workforce.

SHE Center Education and Training

Using mentorship and educational capacity-building tools for scientific research and care, Dana-Farber is training the best and brightest individuals within the MENA region as the next generation of leaders in health care and policy.


SHE Center Research

Dana-Farber's SHE Center will facilitate collaborative research specific to the MENA region – addressing key health gaps through cutting-edge research, with the goals of better understanding and ultimately reducing the region's disease burden.


SHE Center Leadership

Program Director Navid Madani, PhD, uses her deep knowledge of research and scientific-based approaches to public health projects in the MENA region. The SHE Center was born of Madani's past decade of work in the region, during which she has brought together crucial stakeholders in key populations.

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Health Challenges in MENA Countries


Cancer kills more than 250,000 people each year in the MENA region, with cancer incidence on the rise. While the projected increase can be attributed in part to the same causes as in other regions (population aging, tobacco usage, earlier detection), the region is also seeing a rise in pediatric and rare cancers that are thought to have regional causes. Among these is exposure to industrial and agricultural carcinogens that have been banned elsewhere, and to chemical weapons used in regional warfare.

Infectious Diseases

The incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases in the region is increasing, but addressing these diseases is complicated by social, religious, and legal stigma. Research and prevention efforts are growing, but are still inadequate. In the case of HIV, MENA is one of only two regions in the world with an expanding HIV epidemic. The overall incidence of HIV has increased by almost 79 percent from 2001 to 2010. And although deaths from AIDS have shown a 176 percent increase in the region, many MENA countries have not yet established their own national strategic plans.