Scientist Nowras Rahhal (left) and Professor Christoph Rademacher (right) are seen with their vaccine research group at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, in May 2020. Photo Credit: MPI of Colloids and Interfaces

Society Germany7. January 2021

He Is Stateless – But This Scientist Can Still Help Find a New Kind of Corona Vaccine

Despite his stateless status, a young scientist of Syrian and Palestine origin has managed to achieve high spheres of study and join a team of scientists developing a Corona vaccine in Germany.

“I’m very lucky because I had the chance to get an education,” says Nowras Rahhal, 27,  who gained a degree in pharmaceutical sciences from Damascus University in Syria, before applying to Germany to study. He has a master in nanosciences, and is embarking on a PhD in vaccine technology under Christoph Rademacher, a professor in molecular drug targeting, who picked the young scientist to join his team. They are developing a system that allows a COVID-19 vaccine to be applied on the skin, targeting specialist immune cells in the skin that can then trigger an immune reaction in the body.

“When I saw my family crying I was determined to do something that made them proud,” says the scientist who learned German, worked on cancer drug research, and contributed to a bilingual storytelling project for refugee children.

People who are stateless, meaning that no countries recognize them as citizens, often struggle to access education. By sharing his own story, he wishes to inspire other stateless kids to have big dreams. “I’m sure if other stateless kids had these opportunities we’d hear a lot more success stories.”

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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