Date: 23 March 2022
Qatar Biobank, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), has enrolled nearly 30,000 participants, as a part of its medical health research initiative to improve the health of the local population through personalized medicine.
The cohort study, a population-based long-term study, aims to collect high-quality biological samples and annotated data among Qataris and long-term residents who lived in Qatar for at least 15 years to promote medical research.
“Qatar Biobank has enrolled 29,438 participants for the cohort study, and among them, 20,466 are Qataris, 5,944 Arab nationals, and 3,028 other nationals. In 2021, we recruited 2,956 participants and among them 2,002 are Qataris, 757 are Arab nationals, and 197 are others,” Shaikha M Al Hassan, Lab Technologist at QBB Laboratory, told The Peninsula.
Qatar Biobank is a platform that will make vital health research possible through its collection of biological samples and data on health and lifestyle from large numbers of the Qatari population.
Qatar Biobank, Qatar’s long-term medical health initiative, was created to give Qatar’s population and residents better chances of avoiding severe illnesses and promote better health for the country's future generations. All research studies in Qatar Biobank are IRB approved.
All participants will consent to provide their biological samples and information to benefit research studies and support translational medicine, benefiting each patient.
Qatar Biobank changed its work plan during 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic situation in parallel to the cohort study.
“Our teams at Qatar Biobank adjusted routine work to new strategies, and we started working on a COVID-19 research project by going to the facilities where medical care was being provided to patients, recruiting them to get their required samples and data that will help our researchers understand the virus and provide critical insights for decision-makers to work on the crisis management plan that helped Qatar to be one of the top countries managing the pandemic situation and protecting the community members,” said Shaikha.
“We also started a COVID-19 vaccination project which focused on studying the vaccine’s effect on decreasing the spread of the virus and saving people who are more vulnerable to it,” she added.
In collaboration with the Qatar Genome Project (QGP), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Weill Cornell Medicine, Qatar Biobank developed a genotyping microarray Q-chip to comprehensively screen newborns, couples, and patients for risk variants in Qatar.
Additionally, for other developing projects, Qatar Genome uses samples and data collected by Qatar Biobank to perform analysis of the omics data, establish local and international research partnerships and facilitate integration with the healthcare system.
“Fully automated robotic systems allow the high throughput and full traceability of the biospecimens of all types like blood, urine, and saliva. Fully automated workflows with bioinformatical data integration are incorporated in all stages of the biospecimen life cycle from sample collection until sample storage.
“Qatar Biobank has state of the art storage facilities for biological samples, with a -196°C liquid nitrogen storage in cryopreservation laboratory and -80°C automated bio store capable of safely storing over two million samples,” said Shaikha during the tour of the laboratories.