Qatar Biobank welcomes 10,000th participant

 08 Nov 2017 - 7:56

Qatar Biobank welcomes 10,000th participant

The Peninsula

Qatar Biobank recently welcomed its 10,000th participant, making a major milestone in the medical health research initiative’s history. By reaching this significant number, Qatar Biobank is strongly advancing its mission to improve the health of the local population. 

Launched in 2012, Qatar Biobank, a member of Qatar Foundation is a population-based initiative in which volunteer participants provide biological samples and information on their health history and lifestyle. Through these samples, Qatar Biobank enables medical researchers and healthcare professionals to gain a clearer picture of health issues facing Qatar and the region.

“The success of Qatar Biobank is dependent on participation by the local population, especially Qatari youth, and reaching 10,000 participants is a clear indication of the importance our people place on their health now and in the future,” said Dr Asmaa Al Thani, Chairperson of the Qatar Genome Programme Committee and Board Vice Chairperson of Qatar Biobank. 

“We are proud of this milestone, and are eager to welcome more participants to contribute to this important national initiative,” she added.

Qatar Biobank welcomes Qataris over the age of 18, and adult expatriates who have lived in Qatar for at least 15 years, to take part in this pioneering medical research endeavour. 

Researchers have already been able to use Qatar Biobank’s samples to gain important insights into the health of the local population, including the discovery of high levels of diabetes, obesity, and vitamin D deficiency. 

These findings will enable researchers to make recommendations to healthcare providers and policy-makers to better tailor their actions to address specific conditions. 

“Most medical treatments have been developed through the study of Western populations, and there has been a lack of large-scale biomedical research based on populations in the Arab world,” said Dr Nahla Maher Afifi, Education and Scientific Manager and Acting Director of Qatar Biobank. 

A visit to the Qatar Biobank includes standard medical tests such as blood pressure and lung function. However, the tests carried out by Qatar Biobank also include new screenings that are not included in other large-scale biobanks, including advanced imaging techniques to measure whole-body composition and the health of carotid arteries, and a treadmill test to measure physical fitness.

All participants have the opportunity to receive feedback approximately two weeks after the initial visit, though Qatar Biobank immediately notifies participants who are found to have serious or life-threatening conditions. If necessary, participants will be referred to an appropriate clinic within Hamad Medical Corporation for further diagnosis or treatment. 

Qatar Biobank’s main facility in Hamad Medical City recently expanded its capacity by 50 percent, enabling more visitors to pass through the approximately three-hour process each day.