Qatar has a pretty unique opportunity to be at the forefront of precision medicine with its relatively homogeneous gene pool and common in-group health ailments. At Qatar Foundation, we’re leading the charge to develop a program with real benefits for the local population.
Precision medicine holds a lot of promise to revolutionize the management of healthcare. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine, it can help us cater to the needs of each patient based on their unique genetic fingerprint and lifestyle indicators.
At Qatar Foundation, we’re leading the development of precision medicine for the nation. These are some of the few milestones we’re hoping to reach in the coming months and years:
Qatar Foundation is uniquely positioned to lead the national discourse on precision medicine. The technology, the science, the leadership, and vision are all in place. Qatar, due to its size, has tremendous potential to build an exciting economy around precision medicine which will make us one of a kind in the region, and among the top producers of biomedical discoveries around the world.
We’ve been early adopters of precision medicine in the region. The work we’re doing here in Qatar can be utilized across the Arab region and around the world.
We’ve already sequenced 20,000 Qatari genomes and are on track for 100,000 by 2025.
In 2018, QGP, Qatar Biobank, and WCM-Q launched Q-Chip, the country’s first gene chip that can store hundreds of thousands of gene variants in a small device much smaller than a postage stamp. In the past, we had to send rare or abnormal gene samples out of the country for diagnosis; now, we just need to store them on the Q-Chip for examination.
By having a full spectrum of research, medical, computational, and social scientific entities working together, we’re able to streamline our approach to precision medicine and work with key external parties such as hospitals and public health authorities.
In 2015, we launched an annual grant called the Pathway Towards Precision Medicine (PPM) to encourage local researchers working on genomics. This grant has supported experts and researchers in genomics and genetics working at research facilities inside Qatar, as well as integrated healthcare programs, all of which represent fundamental components designed to pave the path toward precision medicine.
These are the entities executing our precision medicine initiatives.
Qatar Biobank is a population-based research initiative that creates a repository of biological samples and information on health and lifestyle of Qatari citizens and long-term residents. This enables local scientists to conduct vital medical research on prevalent health issues in Qatar, thereby giving our people a better chance of avoiding serious illnesses in the future.
Qatar Genome Programme (QGP) is a population-based research project that aims to study the genetic makeup of the Qatari population with the aim of introducing precision medicine and personalized healthcare. Its large-scale genomic research, based on data collected by Qatar Biobank, has made Qatar one of the few countries in the world conducting research of this nature.
Founded in 2010, Hamad Bin Khalifa University is a homegrown graduate-focused university and research institute that acts as a catalyst for transformative change in Qatar and the region. Through applying creativity to knowledge, students at HBKU have the opportunity to discover innovative solutions that are locally relevant and have a global impact.
Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) fosters original, competitively selected research in engineering and technology, physical and life sciences, medicine, humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
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