The Qatar Genome Programme (QGP) was announced by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser at the World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH) in 2013, signifying a new era for Qatar’s healthcare industry.

In 2015, we launched Phase one, an initiative that drew on the collective efforts of the research community in Qatar to provide an integrated and collaborative work environment. The primary goal of Phase one was to sequence a representative number of whole genomes and mine the data to identify the main characteristics of the Qatari Genome.

The QGP utilised DNA samples collected by Qatar Biobank to perform whole genome sequencing in partnership with Sidra Medicine. During this phase, we capitalized on the strong infrastructure Qatar has built itself ranging from skilled researchers, top-notch facilities, and support from the leadership.

This would have not been possible without the overwhelming support of the Qatari population. According to national-level surveys, we found that an overwhelming majority of Qatari population are willing to participate in the QGP by contributing biological samples and their medical history.

Three years later, we are thrilled to complete the development of the first Qatari gene chip (Q-Chip V1) which was presented to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser at the WISH 2018. The Q-chip is the first step in the realization of personalised medicine in Qatar.

Providing a platform for discussing innovative research and knowledge is pertinent to propel the mission of QGP.  We held two successful international symposia in 2016 and 2018 which brought together researchers and scientists from around the world to showcase their genome projects and explore the ethical, social and legal aspects of such programmes.

Along the lines, we took a move aimed at transferring knowledge to the next generation of Qatari researchers, stemmed from our commitment to support our local scientists and students through the formation of partnerships with academic institutions in Qatar and abroad. In addition, and in this spirit, QGP initiated two graduate programs in collaboration with local universities, a Genetic Counseling Masters at Qatar University and a Genomic Medicine Masters and Ph.D. programs at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).

All our work aims at developing the country’s healthcare industry to ensure a healthier life for our community and future generations. Genetic diseases continue to present major health challenges across the Arab world, putting a great deal of responsibility on our shoulders.

We support Qatar Foundation in its mission to bolster research, development and innovation through medical research on prevailing health problems in the country and we are making a significant contribution to develop personalised healthcare in Qatar by improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

According to the recent announcement of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the Qatar Genome Programme will be prioritised as a national health strategy named Qatar Precision Medicine (QPM). We are ready and honoured to fulfil this responsibility and I am confident that our efforts will greatly impact our future generations and contribute to a healthier society.

Prof. Asma Al Thani
Chair of the National Genome Committee