In the world of biobanking, a field filled with new developments in biobank software, sample management and successful translational medicine, it isn’t always easy to make waves. However, the small nation of Qatar has done just that: in recent months, the country has announced the creation of its first national biobank and began an important project to study various diseases that have grown prevalent in the area. Now, the Qatar Biobank has held a conference to promote collaboration with other nations in their region.
In February 2015, the Biobanking in the Context of Personalized Healthcare Conference was hosted by the Qatar Biobank. Drawing scientists and researchers from around the world, the event sought to discuss the evolution of modern healthcare and the potential impact of biobanking. As a result, topics included translational research, the state of biobanks in the Middle East, information generation and different types of biobank software for managing and preserving data.
Sessions were chaired by leading industry experts from around the world, including Dr. Elena Cattaneo of the Center for Stem Cell Research in Milan; Dr. Paul Elliot from the School of Public Health at Imperial College in London; and Dr. Pasquale De Blasio of Integrated Systems Engineering Srl. Meanwhile, the conference was hosted by Dr. Hanan al-Kuwari, the chairperson of the Qatar Biobank’s board of trustees, and Dr. Hadi Abderrahim, the managing director. The event concluded with a roundtable discussion on the need for a biobanking network in the Middle East and future collaboration with global medical institutions.
The topics discussed at the event have recently become more important than ever, with President Barack Obama even talking about personalized healthcare at length during his 2015 State of the Union Address. As a result, special attention was paid to the Qatar Genome Project, which was launched in 2013 and aims to better diagnose, understand and treat diseases in the area. Because the Middle East is an understudied population, experts at the conference suggested that this work could potentially lead to more data on risk factors and potential therapies.