Qatar Biobank, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF) and part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation, has welcomed its 20,000th participant as part of its unique medical research initiative to understand the drivers of mainstream health challenges in Qatar.

Launched in 2011, Qatar Biobank enables researchers and healthcare professionals to access the data and biological samples that it collects from the local population, in an effort to develop customised medical solutions to the various diseases and health issues prevalent in the country.

Dr Asmaa al-Thani, board vice-chairperson of Qatar Biobank and chairperson of the Qatar Genome Programme Committee, said: “The screening of 20,000 participants is an achievement for us all.

“We are one step closer to accomplishing preventative treatment for the healthcare challenges that our population faces. The success of the medical research at Qatar Biobank, and ultimately the realisation of precision medicine, depends on how actively the people of Qatar contribute to our programme.”

Qatar Biobank and Qatar Genome Programme, also a QF member, have completed the development of the first Qatari gene chip, ‘Q-Chip’. It is the first local gene array designed and based on data from thousands of Qatari genomes sequenced over the past three years, and represents a major step in gaining insights into the health of the local population, including the prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and vitamin D deficiency.

Qatar Biobank welcomes registration from Qataris over the age of 18, and adult expatriates who have lived in Qatar for at least 15 years.

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

All participants receive feedback within approximately two weeks after their initial visit. However, Qatar Biobank immediately notifies participants who are found to have serious or life-threatening conditions.

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