Imperial College London has been assisting Qatar Foundation and the Supreme Council of Health, together with Hamad Medical Corporation, in establishing the Qatar Biobank. This world-class facility will collect medical data from up to 100,000 volunteers in Qatar and store samples of their blood and urine in a high-tech storage facility over many years. This will allow scientists to look at diseases already present in the population as well as following up the participants to see who develops disease in the future. Researchers will compare data, including genetic information and data on environmental exposures and lifestyles, from participants who develop illnesses with data from those who remain healthy. In this way, they aim to identify early markers that can indicate when someone is likely to develop a particular disease, so that people will be able to receive early treatment or take measures to prevent a disease developing.
The Qatar Biobank is the first very large population-based study involving the collection of biological samples in an Arabic country. It will provide scientists with an invaluable resource for improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which are placing increasing demands on Qatar’s free public health service. Further information on the work of the Biobank is available here.