Qatar Report

Innovative research

Each year Middle East Health runs a report on healthcare in Qatar. This year we focus on some of the innovative medical research taking place in the country.

The leadership in Qatar, through the Qatar Foundation’s division for Research and Development, has stated clearly they are committed to ensuring the country becomes a leading centre for research and development excellence and innovation, globally.

Research is supported by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), established in 2006. It is noted that the QNRF, while actively seeking the participation of internationally recognized researchers is dedicated to funding research that meets the needs of Qatar. The QNRF builds research capacity and promotes a research culture through its funding programs which are aligned with the following four pillars of the Qatar National Research Strategy 2012 – energy and environment; computing and information technology; health; and social sciences, arts and humanities.

Although research in healthcare is but one facet of this, it is held in high regard and is one of the key components of Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2011-2016 which is intended to help the country attain the health goals and objectives contained in Qatar National Vision 2030 – that is essentially creating a world-class, integrated, patient-centred healthcare system.

The National Health Strategy notes that “health policies and services will be based on the latest scientific research and evidence. The Supreme Council of Health will encourage medical research at the frontiers of science in Qatar’s centres of excellence while conducting high-quality health services research itself, including collecting appropriate data to guide policy and monitoring and evaluating progress against specified objectives”.

In order to carry out this research the country has established – or is in the process of establishing – a number of world class research facilities including Sidra Medical and Research Center and the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), which incorporates the Qatar Biobank for Medical Research. The QBRI is a centre of Qatar Foundation Research and Development. Also conducting healthcare research is the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Hamad Medical Corporation Medical Research Center (HMC MRC), among other organisations.

The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) was established in 2012 to tackle diseases of major worldwide importance (and particularly prevalent in Qatar and the Middle East) such as diabetes and certain forms of cancer. QBRI has a specific focus on developing translational biomedical research and biotechnology. To fulfill its mission, QBRI has set up eight cutting-edge research centers: Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research Center, Genomic Medicine and Systems Biology Research Center, Gene-based Therapy Research Center, Biomedical Engineering Research Center, Diabetes Research Center, Cancer Research Center, Genetic Diseases Research Center, and the Qatar Biobank.

Qatar Foundation names new Executive Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute

On 5 March this year Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development announced that Dr Hilal Lashuel, a prominent scientist in life sciences and associate professor at the Brain Mind Institute of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) School of Life Sciences, has been appointed Executive Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI). Dr Lashuel will contribute to the advancement of translational biomedical research and the development of innovative personalised medicine in Qatar.

Faisal Alsuwaidi, President of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), welcomed Dr Lashuel and highlighted the wealth of experience that he will bring to Qatar Foundation Research and Development.

“Building on his past experiences and previous activities with Qatar Foundation, we are pleased to have Dr Lashuel in the Executive Director role to guide QBRI in support of our vision of becoming a leading centre for research and development excellence and innovation,” said Alsuwaidi. Dr Lashuel is internationally recognised for his work in the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and related disorders.

His research has contributed significantly to the identification of novel disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets for the treatment of these conditions. His scientific contributions include more than 100 publications in major peer reviewed journals including Nature journals, Cell, PNAS and Angewandte Chemie, as well as patents on novel strategies for preventing protein aggregation.

Dr Lashuel expressed his enthusiasm to take up the exciting and challenging position. “I am truly honoured and humbled by the trust and confidence Qatar Foundation have invested in me, and for giving me this unique opportunity to lead QBRI and contribute to achieving the objectives of the Qatar National Research Strategy and Qatar National Vision 2030,” he said. “While there are challenges that lie ahead, I also see great opportunities to make transformative changes that will impact education, research, and healthcare in Qatar and the region.”

Dr Lashuel has had several previous engagements in Qatar including coordinator of the biomedical group and active member of Arab Expatriate Scientists – an initiative launched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser – in 2006, and serving as consultant and advisor to Qatar Foundation and the Sidra Medical & Research Center. His contribution to promoting higher education and research in the Middle East is exemplified by his roles as co-founder and Secretary General of the Society for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the Arab World (SASTA), co-founder and co-director of the American Association of Yemeni Scientists and Professionals, and a founding member of the IBRO-MENA (International Brain Research Organization) sub-region chapter, which aims to promote neuroscience research in the MENA region. He serves as research advisor to several organisations and universities in the region.

 Date of upload: 12th May 2014


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