Qatar Genome Programme (QGP) aims to complete sequencing of 20,000 to 30,000 genomes within the next two years, an official said on Monday.
“We sequenced 6,000 genomes by June 2016. We aim to sequence 10,000 genomes by June 2018. Our plan is to sequence about 20,000 to 30,000 genomes, which is 10% of the population of the country in next two years. Moreover QGP could also start the sequencing for the whole population by 2019-2020,” said Prof Asma al-Thani, chairperson, Qatar Genome Programme Committee.
She was speaking at the ‘Functional genomics Symposium: Towards Precision Medicine’ organised by Sidra Medicine. The three-day symposium at St Regis Doha is discussing Qatar’s efforts towards precision medicine.
The inaugural session was attended by the senior leadership of Sidra Medicine including Peter Morris, CEO, and Dr Ena Wang, acting chief research officer and research chief - Translational Medicine, and other officials. A large number of medical professionals from Qatar are also attending the event.
“We are also working with the Ministry of Public Health to bring international consultants to finalise the first genomic medicine policy and regulation. Similarly, a partnership with Hamad Medical Corporation and Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar has been established to create the first Qatari Gene Chip,” explained Prof Asma elaborating the topic: "Qatar Genome Programme: Coming of Age".
The official described the QGP roadmap by highlighting that the programme was launched in December 2013 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson, Qatar Foundation, and thereafter the QGP Committee was established. “QGP is conducting a number of research networks, working on policies and regulations as well as looking at clinical implementation. These all will lead to making the country a genomic database hub," added Prof Asma.
“In addition, QGP is also conducting public surveys to collect the opinion of the public, regarding precision medicine. Another effort is to start university programmes in the study of genomics and start masters’ courses. We also conduct summer internship programmes for medical professionals and university students,” noted the official.
The QGP chairperson highlighted that Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) has already started a masters’ programme in genomics and precision medicine. “Already 20 students have started the programme in HBKU. The discussions with Qatar University are in the final stage and we expect that the university will launch the programme either in the fall or spring semester next year. The programmes are designed in such a way that the students can either opt for diploma, MSC or PhD courses,” added Prof Asma.