Nowras Rahhal

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Nowras Rahhal
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Damascus, Syria
EducationMaster of Science in Nanoscince

Nowras Rahhal is a stateless scientist. Despite the disadvantages of having no nationality, he was able to pursue his education. After moving to Germany as an international student to continue his studies in 2018, he joined a group of scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and interfaces and contributed to the development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate when the coronavirus outbreak started. The vaccine candidate passed initial tests and was officially listed at the World health organization.[1]


Rahhal was born as a Palestinian refugee in Damascus, Syria in 1993. Rahhal's family is originally from Haifa and was among tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled Palestine during the conflict surrounding the birth of Israel in 1948. [2] Rahhal was raised as a child in Darayya, a city in the suburbs of Damascus which was later bombed during the Syrian civil war. A major part of his education was in a primary school belongs to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Damascus.[3] Rahhal obtained a five-year bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Damascus in 2016. [4] In 2018, He left Syria after seven years of witnessing the Syrian civil war atrocities.

Rahhal arrived in Germany in 2018 after he was enrolled in a Master program in Nanoscience at the University of Kassel. In January 2020, he joined a research group at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam, Germany that is developing a new technique in nanomedicine to administer drugs and vaccines through the skin without the need of a needle. Rahhal was picked to be part of a group of scientists to work on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces. The group joined their efforts to the worldwide race to find a vaccine for the circulating coronavirus. Two vaccine candidates resulted from the group targeted delivery approaches: one is a protein subunit and the other is an mRNA LNPs vaccine candidate. © MPI of Colloids and Interfaces

Rahhal graduated with his master's with the highest possible grades and moved to Austria, Vienna to start a Ph.D. Program in Nanomedicine. Rahhal also joined the European Network on Statelessness as an associate member to raise more awareness on statelessness and to advocate for the rights of those who lack nationality.

Rahhal was interviewed by many Arabic news agencies such as Aljazeera, BBC Arabic and Al Arabiya to talk about the technology he is working on. His story was also featured on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[5]


  1. World Health Organization. "Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines".
  2. Reuters. "From Syria to COVID-19 frontline, stateless scientist sets sights on vaccine". {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  4. European Network on Statelessness. "Members of the European Network on Statelessness".
  5. "UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Twitter account".

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