Sidra Medicine is investing two-third of its annual research fund on its genome sequencing programme, Gulf Times has learnt.
“Our research at Sidra Medicine on genome sequencing is part of joint efforts by several institutes in the country working towards mapping the Qatari genome. We are investing a substantial amount of money into this programme,” revealed Prof Christof von Kalle, chief research officer.
“Sidra Medicine has been providing the logistics for genetic sequencing as well as the bioinformatics analysis of the Qatar Genome Programme (QGP). We have passed the 10,000 mark recently. We have analysed the information from the samples which we have already and will continue to lead to more in-depth studies,” explained Prof Kalle.
“The whole programme aims to develop a knowledge base of the distribution of specific genetic features that might be associated with diseases. We are looking into the population in Qatar to understand where certain genetic markers can identify potential for disease,” continued the official.
According to the chief research officer, the sequencing or the actual analysis of the genes is done in Sidra Medicine as well as the computational data of the programme.
“Globally speaking, we are at a more advanced stage in the understanding of the genome than ever before. We not only know the code but also the genes which often give hints about which part or function or mechanism is behind a disease. It leads towards greater understanding of why the disease manifests and how it can be treated,” maintained Prof Kalle.
QGP, Prof Kalle felt, is one of its kind and putting that programme to a hospital gives a sense of urgency to pass on the benefits to the patients at the earliest. “It is a pioneering programme as it is trying to connect the health of the entire population of a country. Many countries are trying to do it. However, considering the size of the population, the programme in Qatar is the foremost in the world,” he pointed out.
“At Sidra Medicine, we have a large and a high performing computing cluster that processes the data. It was created and customised specifically for Sidra Medicine two years ago and it was one of the three highest performing computers at that time,” added Prof Kalle.
Prof Kalle, an internationally renowned scientific leader in stem cell research and the treatment of rare genetic diseases, was appointed as the chief research officer of Sidra Medicine in May this year.
As a physician scientist with a clinical background in cancer research, he has published over 150 high-impact publications.