The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) has taken a major step forward in its mission to transform Qatar's healthcare with the signing of a collaboration agreement with the Qatar Genome Programme (QGP).
This newly-forged partnership facilitates genome sequencing of Qataris with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their apparently healthy family members.
At a special event held recently to mark the signing of the agreement, members from QBRI and QGP outlined the full extent of both organisations' co-operation.
The agreement will see a whole genome sequencing initiative for a large number of samples that are being collected as part of QBRIs autism research programme. The samples will be obtained from individuals with ASD and their families, and the sequencing will be done over a period of two years.
It is expected that these samples will directly inform QBRIs investigations of the genetic and genomic background of ASD.
In his address to dignitaries and participants, Dr Omar El Agnaf, Executive Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, said: "The Qatar Genome Programme is recognised nationally as an enabler of research that aims to implement precision medicine through the generation of large scale genomic and other multi omics data from the Qatari population. As such, we are natural partners in the effort to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorder.
"It is expected that identifying the causative mutations of ASD will feed into other related areas of research, enabling early diagnosis, putative biomarkers and a greater understanding of the mechanisms leading to such conditions. I am looking forward to further collaboration with the Qatar Genome Programme, extending to additional areas where we can join our efforts."
Commenting on the signing of the agreement, Dr Asma al-Thani, Chairperson of the National Genome Committee, said: "As scientists, we are forever motivated by the pursuit of knowledge, and genomics brings us a wealth of data that we can use in all different streams of healthcare research.
"We are happy that Qatar has a centre such as QBRI that dedicates so much effort to joining with local and international endeavors for finding solutions for people with autism, and we are happy to support their research towards precision medicine."