Palestine Image Bank
Palestinian Chemical Engineer and Biotechnology Penelope Shihab
Penelope Shihab was born and raised in Palestine during a period of heightened turbulence and political unrest. As conflict in the war-torn region escalated, Penelope had narrowly escaped death three times by the age of 14.“Growing up in place of war and conflict, it was really hard for most people to stay there, live there and even harder to dream. But for me, it was a kick to try to find a better place to live and make my dreams come true,” Penelope said. “It wasn’t negative for me, it was a positive, motivating factor.” Penelope had the full, unwavering support of her parents and family, who encouraged her to pursue her natural intellectual gifts and aptitude in the areas of math and science. In 1992, she moved to Jordan for her undergraduate studies, receiving her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Laboratory Medicine from the University of Applied Sciences. Penelope went on to pursue her graduate studies in Hematology, Biotechnology and Immunology at the Jordan University of Science and Technology.
After graduating in 1999, Penelope accepted the position of Sales and Marketing Manager at Dako Technologies, a world leader in the manufacturing of molecular, immunological, and biochemical products for diagnostics and therapy. In this position, she was responsible for sales and technical support for cancer diagnostic products and managed a sales team for a wide range of products.
Penelope’s work at Dako Technologies further fueled her determination to combine her scientific expertise with her astute understanding of business and management. “It was my passion to pursue a career in science and receive education overseas,” Penelope said. It was this passion that led Penelope to pursue her MBA at the London Institute in 2004.
While completing coursework for her master’s degree, Penelope served as Executive Manager for the Al Belbaisi Group, an industrial and trading company specialized in manufacturing off-light and electrical heating systems, where she managed a JD 3M business with over 30 employees in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. In 2011, Penelope began pursuing her PH.D in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology under the supervision of Professor Chris Lowe, Director of the Biotechnoloy Institute. She later facilitated a partnership with the University of Cambridge and her biotech company MONOJO aimed toward the research of immunized camel whey antibodies.
Penelope always saw enormous potential in the Middle East, its people and its abundant natural resources. It was during conversations with members of the nomadic Bedouin tribes residing in her home region that planted the seeds of the scientific breakthroughs and entrepreneurial spirit that would later inspire Penelope to found the first innovative biotech company in Jordan and the Arab world, MONOJO.
Osama Silwadi / Palestine Image Bank