Science Story-telling from Home


26 Nov 2016

Biology, Medicine/Health

Islam Hussein

In this video, Dr. Islam Hussein discusses how he became involved in science communication on video.  He started because although he was publishing as a scientist, he wanted information about “cool science” to reach a wider audience.  He also wanted to provide educational media that would be accessible for the people of Egypt in order to “counteract” the “unprofessional media” that promoted “fairy tales” instead of actual science.

Hussein discusses his involvement with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Egypt Scholars and Tahrir Academy.  However, what annoyed him enough to start the video blog was misinformation promoted in Egypt in early 2014 about devices that, as he puts it, “diagnose and treat pretty much all viral infections”.  As a virologist, he knew this was not possible.  He was concerned that his science was being humiliated and patients deceived.  His response was to record a YouTube video (in Arabic), which he also posted to Facebook.  The video drew broad attention, including from Science.

Hussein describes how he learns from creating his videos.  He strives to present material showing how science is interconnected and relevant to “daily life, history, culture, arts, politics”.  He encourages other scientists to become involved in creating videos to spread knowledge about science.  Although there are challenges, the widespread response from his audience, which is spread across the Arabic-speaking world, encourages him.


This video is a recording of a lecture, given 11 November 2016 at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT).  The Harvard Arab Alumni Association at Harvard University organized the lecture.


Islam Hussein, PhD, a virologist at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his son and “business partner”, Adhan, have created a series of videos in Arabic on viruses, some of which have been televised on Egyptian TV, as well as science more broadly.  In addition to their YouTube channel, they maintain Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram presences.  Hussein was born in Egypt, and prioritizes disseminating information on science in Arabic.


Although Hussein does not directly discuss religion, Muslims are shown in some of the materials he presents.

Hussein directly discusses the problems created by scientific misinformation and his efforts to address it.  Although he is not directly discussing science here, his materials on science in Arabic have solid factual bases.

The events Hussein described in 2014 occurred as he presents them.