Qatar joins the big league in medical research

The State of Qatar has officially been confirmed as a member of the Biobanking and Biomolecular resources Research Infrastructure – European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC).

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Qatar’s membership as an observer was approved by the BBMRI-ERIC Assembly of Members in November last year, with Qatar officially joining the research infrastructure this January. Qatar’s observership makes the State, and Qatar Biobank, the first non-European country, and biobank, to join BBMRI-ERIC.

Current members are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Slovenia, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Qatar Biobank will have access to BBMRI’s specialised knowledge in Quality Management, ELSI, IT tools, and tailor-made guidance that will strengthen the State’s medical research capabilities and support reaching a common goal of precision medicine development.

In turn, BBMRI-ERIC will benefit from fostering an international exchange of knowledge and human biosamples collected and stored in Qatar Biobank, enabling the global research society to better deal with future global health threats and develop treatments for a healthier future.

In light of the recent pandemic, the importance and increasing relevance is self-explanatory.

Vice Chairperson of Qatar Biobank Board, Dr Asma Al Thani, delegate to BBMRI-ERIC’s Assembly of Members, said: “I am so proud to witness Qatar’s name present among leading countries in the medical research and biobanking fields, through our work and efforts at Qatar Biobank, under the great leadership of Qatar Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health. This is the first time an Arab Middle Eastern country, and a non-European country joins BBMRI-ERIC as an observer or a participant, which reflects Qatar’s position in these fields and how far we’ve reached with our work.”

Qatar Biobank’s Director, and BBMRI-ERIC National Node Director, Dr. Nahla Afifi, added:

“We have been working hand in hand with the BBMRI-ERIC for years now, collaborating on many projects, exchanging knowledge between our local researchers and field experts and theirs, to reinforce Qatar’s position in the biobanking field globally as one of the leaders, and joining the consortium is an assurance that our work in Qatar Biobank with our local stakeholders is well recognised from our international stakeholders and that Qatar’s efforts in the biobank and medical research fields are valuable for the world’s health future.”

Prof. Jens Habermann said:

“We are building on established ties with Qatar and welcome the State’s participation in our Assembly of Members whilst linking Qatar Biobank to a strong EU biobanking community. This was made possible with the steadfast support of Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health.”

BBMRI-ERIC’s support of the Qatar Biobank continues through the Qatar/ESBB convened third International Biobanking Conference taking place this autumn.

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