The Qatar Biobank recently welcomed its 10,000th participant, a milestone in the medical health research initiative’s history.
Launched in 2012, Qatar Biobank – a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development – 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, the chairperson of the Qatar Genome Programme Committee and board vice-chairperson of Qatar Biobank.
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 are already able to use Qatar Biobank’s samples to gain insight 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 Qatar Biobank education and scientific manager Dr Nahla Maher Afifi.
“Qatar Biobank is aiming to develop targeted medical treatments within the country, improving the health of the population,” she added.
“As more participants contribute samples, we are better able to support the creation of targeted, effective healthcare solutions,” Dr Afifi, who is also acting director of the Qatar Biobank, explained.
A visit to the Qatar Biobank includes standard medical tests such as blood pressure and lung function, as well as new screenings that are not included in other large-scale biobanks.
These new screenings include advanced imaging techniques to measure whole-body composition and the health of carotid arteries, and a treadmill test to measure physical fitness.
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