Qatar Genome Program (QGP) is the largest genome project in the Middle East with a mission to promote genomic research and clinical implementation at a national level. QGP is designed around a comprehensive strategy involving large scale genome sequencing and multi-omics data, establishing local and international research partnerships, building local human capacity, facilitating integration into the healthcare system, drafting guidelines and policies, raising public awareness as well as empowering and educating patients.
QGP was launched by Qatar Foundation with a comprehensive strategy based on seven building blocks. These include integration with Qatar Biobank, utilizing local genomics and bioinformatics infrastructure, forging nationwide research partnerships, investing in local human capacity, drafting policies and regulations, and building a national genome data network and integrating genomics into the healthcare. QGP’s pilot phase started in September 2015, and its deliverables included the sequencing of over 10,000 whole genomes, launching the QGP research consortium, establishing genomic research funding schemes, conducting benchmarking surveys for the general public and health care professionals, drafting national policies and regulations governing genomic research, in addition to initiating graduate programs in genetic counselling and genomic medicine. In the current phase, QGP is ramping-up its sequencing and phenotyping efforts to cover 10 percent of the population. This will be followed by the final phase where an even larger segments of the population will be sequenced. With its small population, a centralized health care system and ample resources, Qatar is well positioned to be a leading country in the implementation of precision medicine.
QGP’s strategy is in alignment with Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which focuses on providing a better future for its citizens. Providing better future health is at the core of this vision as Qatar seeks to become a regional hub for advanced health care. Working as a platform over which the various national stakeholders come together and interact, QGP is key to achieving aspired objectives.
The programme is managed by the national QGP committee which is formed from members representing all the main relevant medical, research and education stakeholders in Qatar.
In addition to forming an umbrella for QGP, Qatar Biobank adds great value to the project with its extensive phenotyping including a comprehensive list of biomarkers and various clinical measurements. This adds synergy to the work in terms of the huge wealth of information that can be extracted from the genotype/phenotype association analysis.
The QGP envisages its role as a national platform at which all local stakeholders can meet and contribute to the programme in a way that would make maximum use of resource and prevent duplication of efforts. In addition to Qatar Biobank, QGP is engaged in partnerships with various entities within Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), Sidra Medical and Research Center, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), Qatar University, Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Weil Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) as well as other stakeholders.