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QF members help to advance personalised healthcare in Qatar
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QF members help to advance personalised healthcare in Qatar

Five research projects aiming to support and advance Qatar’s precision medicine and genomic research infrastructure have been awarded grants by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and Qatar Genome Programme – both members of Qatar Foundation (QF) – under the Path towards Precision Medicine (PPM) research programme.
The joint funding grant promotes and supports genomics research to promote drug discovery and exploit patient specific genomic variants for use in tailored personal therapies for the unique genetic profiles of Qatari patients. This will support the establishment of infrastructure for the clinical implementation of precision medicine, with the goal of to improving the quality of healthcare provided to people in Qatar.
The fourth cycle of the PPM programme saw 30 research proposals received and evaluated, with five being chosen to receive grants of up to $700,000 for a period of up to four years.
Dr Naima Al Mulla, senior attending physician at QF member Sidra Medicine, is one of the awardees, with a project that aims to improve the treatment of paediatric leukaemia in the Middle East.
“Nowadays, in Qatar and other Arab countries, the treatment protocols for paediatric leukaemia are modelled after US and European clinical trials,” said Dr Al Mulla. “Therefore, a novel model of personalised medicine is needed for Qatari patients.
“This project aims to do just that by accomplishing a deep understanding of the genetic background for the main toxicities of, and responses to, drugs used for the treatment of paediatric leukaemia in Qatari children, to provide them with the best possible treatment options.”
Dr Milivoj Belic, professor at QF partner university Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), also received an award for his project that facilitates the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders. “Our goal is to develop specialised instrumentation based on lasers, optics and light detectors, as well as mathematical analysis tools and software enabling early diagnosis of different proteinopathy diseases, like Alzheimer’s, and help improve the local healthcare sector,” he said.
Another grant awardee is Dr Lotfi Chouchane, professor at QF partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), whose project explores drug resistance mechanisms in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. “Our study will explore whether the Qatari population carries any specific pathogenic variants which puts it at risk,” said Dr Chouchane.
Dr Borbala Mifsud, assistant professor, College of Health and Life Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, a member of QF, is another awardee, whose research project aims to identify clinically actionable variants for therapy response in rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
Dr Amel Hassan, senior attending physician at Sidra Medicine, will use the award to explore functional genomic studies and diagnose inherited immunodeficiency diseases, to provide patients in Qatar with a definitive molecular diagnosis.
Speaking about the contribution that the PPM call makes to the advancement of personalised medicine, Dr Abdul Sattar Al Taie, executive director of QNRF, said: “To benefit from the world-class genomic infrastructures and wealth of resources of Qatar Biobank, QNRF, and Qatar Genome Programme, we have launched four successive PPM calls.”
Dr Said Ismail, director of Qatar Genome Programme, said: “PPM is our flagship joint funding programme, aimed at leveraging precision medicine research in Qatar and helping move outcomes from bench to bedside.

Read more at Qatar Tribune.

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