Qatar’s knowledge in healthcare research was showcased at the 16th Science and Technology in Society Forum held recently in Kyoto, Japan, which saw participants from more than 80 countries come together to discuss global challenges arising from advances in science and technology.
The Vice-President of Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI), Qatar Foundation (QF) Dr Richard O’Kennedy, in an invited, high-profile plenary session titled Delivering Healthcare to the World, highlighted QF’s globally-respected genomics research efforts, which have positioned Qatar among the world’s pioneering nations in the highly-specialised sphere of precision medicine.
“The knowledge generated by the Qatar Genome Programme – which has sequenced over 17,000 whole genomes in Qatar – is paving the way for the development and delivery of personalised treatment for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, autism, and cardiovascular disease,” Dr O’Kennedy said.
Observing that the unique characteristics of the Arab genome have been typically underrepresented or altogether missing in the broader human genomic data currently available globally, Dr O’Kennedy added, “The availability of high-quality information on Qatari and Arab genomes will help provide new and deeper insights into diseases and associated risk factors.
“It also has the potential to radically enhance diagnoses and greatly improve treatment as well as the delivery of quality healthcare in Qatar and globally; thus providing individuals with the possibility of living longer, healthier, and happier lives.”
In terms of tackling privacy concerns about genomic data, Dr O’Kennedy noted that it is imperative to have a global examination of how to safely handle, store, and secure genomic data.
“In Qatar, our genomic programmes have a very strong level of engagement with the people, who we inform and educate about the importance and long-term value of these specialised healthcare programmes. It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to maintain this trust and ensure their personal data is fully-secured.” – QNA