Department of Biomedical Informatics hosts its first Fulbright scholar

A computer scientist from Birzeit University chose UB as the best institution in the U.S. to work on biomedical ontology

Release Date: October 3, 2016

Mustafa Jarrar, PhD, a computer scientist from Birzeit University, is an international leader in computational linguistics and ontology

“Fulbright scholars can choose to spend their sabbatical at any institution in the U.S. they want. We are very proud that Dr. Jarrar has chosen UB.”
Peter Elkin, MD, Professor and founding chair
Department of Biomedical Informatics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mustafa Jarrar, PhD, a computer scientist from the Birzeit University in Palestine and an international leader in computational linguistics and ontology, will join the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo as a Fulbright scholar for the 2016-17 academic year.

He will be the first Fulbright scholar in the department, which at just three years old, is the newest department in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“Fulbright scholars can choose to spend their sabbatical at any institution in the U.S. they want,” said Peter Elkin, MD, professor and founding chair of UB’s Department of Biomedical Informatics. “We are very proud that Dr. Jarrar has chosen UB.”

At UB, Jarrar will work with Elkin and others in the department on biomedical ontology; ontology is the science of classifying and describing relationships between things, allowing people from disparate disciplines to speak the same “language.”

During his sabbatical at UB, Jarrar will leverage his expertise in computational linguistics and knowledge representation to contribute to the field of biomedical terminology and scientific ontologies, including processes and actions in the human body.

He also will explore mapping the Arabic ontology, a formal representation of the concepts that the Arabic terms convey, with medical ontologies being developed at UB.

“Dr. Jarrar’s experience here will enable cross-lingual and maybe cross- cultural, knowledge-sharing applications, while also allowing him to establish a long-term research cooperation with members of our department and other UB scholars who are pioneering figures in ontology,” said Elkin.

Jarrar will work closely with Werner Ceusters, MD, director of the Ontology Research Group in UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and professor of biomedical informatics and psychiatry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

Jarrar is an associate professor of computer science at Birzeit University in Palestine. Previously, he was a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Cyprus and a senior research scientist at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, where he completed his PhD. He is the author of more than 50 articles on ontology engineering, lexical semantics, logic, semantic web, graph databases and interoperability.

The coordinator or manager of 20 international and European Union projects related to natural language processing and ontology, Jarrar also won the Google Faculty Research Award for his work in natural language processing. He is a full member of the International Federation for Information Processing 2.12 on Web Semantics, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Technology Centre Board of Governors, among others.

Jarrar founded both the Sina Institute for Knowledge Engineering and Arabic Technologies and the Palestinian eGovernment Academy at Birzeit University. He also served as an advisor at the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology for e-government, where he developed and chaired the Palestinian e-Government Interoperability Framework.

Fulbright Scholarships are awarded to highly deserving scientists from around the world to study in the U.S. The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), the scholar division of the Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the Fulbright Scholar Program, the nation’s flagship academic exchange effort, on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

 

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