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Qatar home to world-class biomedical research program

Doha, Sept. 15, 2009 Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and Weill CornellMedical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) have unveiled a major initiative to establish a world-class biomedical research program, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

The program aims to form a bio-medical research infrastructure, developing a scientific and technical workforce for the benefit of the region at large. Central to this endeavor is a partnership approach, bringing together institutions that have overlapping missions in medical education, research and healthcare. The program will also support high quality research in the fields of genetic and molecular medicine, women's and children's health, gene therapy, stem cells, and vaccine development.

Specific objectives include: Development of first rate, translational and clinical research projects that establish Qatar as a center of excellence with a focus on improving the health of the population. Development of the bio-medical research infrastructure to include laboratories, compliance and regulatory functions. Creation of a critical mass of research faculty in Qatar and developing a regional scientific and technical workforce. To draw on the strengths of existing and future organizations in the Qatar healthcare sector such as Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Sidra Medical and Research Center. To create a conduit for commercialization of discoveries through the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP)

In five years, approximately 120 people will be engaged in the program, establishing a critical mass, which will give Qatar a sustainable scientific research community. These include principal investigators, post-doctoral fellows, technicians, administrative staff for shared use core facilities, clinical and translational investigators and clinical research support staff.

Vice President for Research at Qatar Foundation Dr. Abdelali Haoudi said: "I am delighted to participate in the official launch of this bio-medical research initiative. Qatar Foundation's aim is to establish Qatar as one of world's leading research and intellectual centers through partnering with international and regional organizations as required and through being a key partner in the drive towards a Knowledge Based Economy. This is one major strand of that overall strategy and bio-medical research will play a vital role in the development of the country's research capability. To underline the importance of research to Qatar, 2.8% of the GDP has been allocated for research programs, which positions Qatar among the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest GDP contribution to support Research and Development."

Interim Dean of WCMC-Q Dr Javaid Sheikh said: "This is a significant investment in biomedical research which forms the second leg of our triple mission of education, research and clinical care. We are embarking on a long term plan which will play a key role in building biomedical research capacity and knowledge for the first time."

"We will be working closely with our partners such as Qatar Foundation, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the National Ministry of Health, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and our colleagues in our parent campus at WCMC in New York. Eminent researchers and faculty there will be playing major roles in establishing this program."

"We have already embarked on two proof of concept research projects. The first one compares variations in gene expression levels in the airways of smokers and non-smokers, whereas the second one assesses the clinical care of diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses in Qatar. In addition, we have initiated the process of developing core capabilities in our research laboratories, including the genomics and proteomics cores, computational biology and biostatistics core, a vivarium, a microscopy core, and a basic laboratory support core.

"The start up of this major program in Doha now takes bio-medical research to new levels. As we initiate this world-class research program, our focus would be on developing sustainable local research capacity while targeting the disease areas important in the Gulf region, namely diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. We have established two broad research themes: a Genetic & Molecular Medicine research program with a focus on personalized medicine, gene therapy for cancer, and stem cell research; and a Women & Children's Health research program with a focus on maternal fetal medicine and the neurogenetic disorders of the newborn. I am particularly excited to be part of such a strong commitment to the future of the country as it aspires to become a Center of Excellence for Research in the region."


Contact: Noura Zreik
Weill Cornell Medical College--Qatar

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