Huge ‘biobank’ for research into major diseases
25 November 2010
A ‘biobank’ of samples and clinical measurements from tens of thousands of people is to be established in Qatar with the assistance of Imperial to help scientists understand the causes of major diseases and develop new treatments.
The project was announced on 28 October at the Royal Society in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, during the Qatari state visit to the UK.
The Qatar Biobank is being established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health, and public health experts from Imperial will have a crucial role in the design and implementation of the project.
The biobank will collect a wealth of medical data from up to 100,000 volunteers and store samples of their blood and urine in a high-tech storage facility over many years. This will allow scientists to look at diseases already present in the population, as well as to follow up the participants to see who develops disease in the future.
Professor Elio Riboli, Director of the School of Public Health, said: “Qatar is an extremely interesting population from a medical point of view. It’s a population in rapid transition towards more western lifestyles. Qatar is home to residents from different regions of the world, which means we can look at disease risk factors in multiethnic populations in detail and on a very large scale.”
Professor Paul Elliott, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Public Health), added: “We will be using state-of-the-art technology to collect and analyse samples from an extremely large set of participants. We also plan to carry out imaging of the whole body with MRI – this has never been done before on such a huge scale.”
— Sam Wong, Communications and Development