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From the Syrian civil war to Stem Cell Research Pioneer: an interview with Abdulkader Rahmo, PhD

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

In this episode we interview Abdulkader Rahmo, PhD, (nicknamed “AB”) co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of SMSbiotech about the advances in stem cell research that he and his company have made.

Lots of inspiration here!

From war torn Syria to the halls of science

AB has always believed in science.

Originally from Syria, he became a member of the faculty of medicine at the University of Damascus. There were many difficulties working in science in the third world. Syria is not run by democracy and people have very little say in their future. However, in such a situation one single person can make a big difference if willing to make the sacrifice.

He tried as best he could to cope with the turmoil but after some personal incidences, he decided it was best to leave the country.

Why he went into stem cell research

There was an immediate need for multi resistant tuberculosis patients. He felt called to find a solution that could save their lungs through stem cell research. He decided to establish a company as he felt it would enable him to serve the patients faster than staying in academics.

What is small mobile stem cell research

A stem cell is a cell from which all other cells in the body are derived. AB’s company focuses on small mobile stem cells which have the advantages of both embryonic and adult stem cells without the disadvantages, without doing any genetic modification.

He came upon this discovery, one that most others had overlooked, that allowed him to advance the field of stem cell research.

One that went against all the text books,

One that did not fit any protocols,

One that did not fit any knowledge before…

He knew he was in a field that was not his specialization, so he was very open-minded to new ideas. Sometimes when you are an expert in a field, you take this as a given instead of questioning.

When he first encountered the cells, it was against what he had learned. But he told himself that because he was not an expert, he could be wrong. He tried to disprove their existence for a year and a half!

He was given flexibility in what he wanted to research. Most researchers have to hold on to the grant proposal, to the strict agreement, and are very pressed on making publications. It’s about the next grant and the next grant. Some aspects of the research community are detrimental to the freedom of research.

According to AB, for disruptive technology and new knowledge, truly evolutionary knowledge, you have to give the researcher enough freedom and support. He hopes the community gains that insight and we move on, instead of enforcing existing research, giving more leverage to establishing new paradigms and stimulate disruptive technologies. There is the will but not enough means to make that happens for many scientists – in stem cell research and many other disciplines - at the moment.

His groundbreaking stem cell experiment

Alveoli are essential for gas exchange in the lungs. In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, the air sacs deteriorate. This is what we call emphysema.

He introduced an enzyme that destroyed the air sacs in rats’ lungs to replicate emphysema. And then they introduced the small mobile stem cells directly to the lungs. To his own amazement, he found regeneration and healing in the lung that way exceeded his expectations.

With a small injection of human stem cells, within one week they had 100% regeneration of the alveoli of their lungs. These results were atypical for what was typically seen in stem cell research experiments.

Science, society, and humility

His closing humble words…

I’ve seen people in different countries who are really suffering in terms of material means and means to develop. Many talents and many thoughtful people disappear in this world or do not appear in the first place because their parents have not the means to nourish that talent, or sometimes not the wisdom to do that.

I think I owe it to society that I have been blessed with the means to develop myself…I owe it to the society to return some of that blessing to them. We have to understand that we don’t live in a vacuum. We owe every person our wellbeing…I’ve seen what happens when all this support goes away…in a civil war…you can see the consequences of that. The consequences of not caring about your fellow human being are dire. They can be detrimental. They can destroy you. We all don’t live in an island.

We wish AB and his team all the best as they aim to improve the life of those in the community through innovative stem cell research.

We'll see you in the next episode.

About Tim Dougherty

Tim is an investment advisor representative in Atlanta, GA and the host of the Life Science and Biotech CEO stories podcast. He has been an active investor in the life sciences since the mid-1990’s. His interest originated with research coverage of a private equity investment of Cambridge, MA based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (acquired in 2017 by Takeda for $5.2 billion), while working at a small family office/hedge fund, during that period.

His enthusiasm grew in the years since the financial crisis, as easy monetary policy provided ample liquidity to fund biotechnology research at exactly the time when digital advances would accelerate the pace and efficacy of that research.

About Abdulkader Rahmo PhD

Abdulkader Rahmo, PhD, co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of SMSbiotech, holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and a PhD from the University of Southern California (USC), in the field of Biochemistry. He did his postdoc at a major clinical laboratory in Munich, Germany. He became a director of the center for bio analytics in Syria (private clinical Laboratory with advanced diagnostics). In 2001, he became a member of the faculty of medicine at the University of Damascus (public university). Later he co-founded the National Commission for Biotechnology and became the head of the medical Biotechnology section (a public entity). In 2004, he became an associate professor of biochemistry and medical genetics at the international university for science and technology (private institution) and taught Molecular epidemiology at the Lebanese University Graduate school. In 2008 he became member of the high council for scientific research (the highest authority on government research in Syria). In 2013 he was visiting scientist at the Western University of Health Sciences in Southern California (private university). In 2015, he co-founded SMSbiotech, Inc. based on his research in stem cell biology, he is currently the CSO and president of that company. He has over 30 years’ experience in research and applications and has dedicated the past eleven years to Small Mobile Stem (SMS) cell discovery and development. Working with one of the world’s leading patent firms, he has filed nine patents related to Small Mobile Stem cell technology. The proprietary production methods include extensive knowhow and trade secrets. His main scientific interest continues to be in the field of regenerative medicine and age-related diseases.


The information contained in this website and podcast are purely informational and not considered investment recommendations. Tim Dougherty’s participation in Biotech Insights is separate and apart from his role as an investment advisor representative. Nothing contained herein may be construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the companies discussed. Tim Dougherty has no financial affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this communication. Tim Dougherty makes no representation that the information conveyed in this material is accurate and is under no obligation to update this information as changes occur.

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