Sidra's research branch opens three main labs
28 Feb 2017 - 0:27
By Fazeena Saleem / The Peninsula
Sidra’s research branch has opened three main labs and the state-of-the-art facilities have been brought into operation recently with high calibre expert teams from all over the world.
The outstanding translational research infrastructure at Sidra aims to enable the implementation of precision medicine, said Dr Ena Wang, Acting Chief Research Officer at Sidra.
“Sidra’s research branch aims to advance the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of diseases, develop early prevention, accurate diagnostic and advance therapeutics, and improve the health outcomes of the women and children of Qatar,” said Dr Wang yesterday on sidelines of a media tour of the labs.
“Our research teams are currently working on several research programmes that align with national priorities and health care needs to help facilitate prevention, early and targeted intervention for certain conditions such as cancer, obesity, preterm birth and genetic disorders that are affecting the local population,” she added.
The three labs which are operational at Sidra are namely Omics Core, Genomics Core and Deep Phenotyping Core and the fourth core lab, a Clinical Research Center is under development.
“The state-of-the-art facilities have been brought into operation and are staffed by high calibre scientific teams,” said Dr Wang.
“We are competitive at an international level now, creating comprehensive Qatari genomic databases which will form the building blocks for Precision Medicine, not only in Qatar, but in the wider Middle East,” said added.
The Omics Core lab at Sidra can help with the extraction of DNA from a range of sample types including saliva and blood samples, the Genomic Core lab handles sequencing of DNA extraction samples and the Deep Phenotyping Core (DPC) Labs possesses technologies some of which are unique to the whole Middle East and North Africa Region.
“The Genomic Core lab can support clinical requests internally but also again at a national and international level. We can support clinical whole genome sequencing and clinical testing requests. At a national level, we provided the sequencing support for the first phase of the Qatar Genome Program,” said Max Renault, the Director of Research Operations at Sidra.
Sidra is also preparing to open a Zebrafish facility and it would provide researchers access to state of the art equipment and facilities for studying vertebrate development biology and developing zebrafish models of diseases.
“As a biological system, the zebrafish model offers distinct advantages for researchers. It has stable, easily observable and testable development behaviors. It is cost-effective, its genome is fully sequenced and its embryonic development is very rapid,” said Wei Liu, Director of Clinical Genomic Core at Sidra.
“It will be a key facility for identifying genes in disorders like cancers and cardio-vascular disease in humans, and help identify potential new treatments,” he added.
Further, at a national level Sidra’s research branch has collaborations with Qatar Genome Programme, Qatar University, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, Qatar Biobank, Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, Texas A&M, National Center for Cancer Care and Research, Interim Translational Research Institution (iTRI), Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Anti-Doping Lab Qatar. Also at an international level Sidra is working in close collaboration with organisations from the United States, Europe, Thailand and Japan.