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Tribune News Network
Qatar University’s Biomedical Research Centre (BRC-QU), in collaboration with external entities, has initiated several research activities focused on Coronavirus (Covid-19 and MERS-CoV), lead by Dr Asmaa al Thani, director at BRC, and Dr Hadi Yassine, research projects manager.
BRC’s Covid-19-related research comprises six projects. They are ‘A Detailed analysis of exported Covid-19 cases (from China to the rest of the world), which is being done in collaboration with College of Medicine -- QU and Ministry of public Health (MoPH); ‘Using digital simulation technology to test the ability of some inhibitors to stop Covid-19 binding to its cellular receptors’ conducted by BRC; ‘Study of the genetics evolution of seasonal and zoonotic coronavirus that infects humans’, a research being made in collaboration between The Biomedical Research Centre QU and Hamad bin Khalifa University – Qatar Foundation; ‘Study the evolution of the Coronavirus (MERS) that causes respiratory syndrome in humans and camels in the Middle East’ by The Biomedical Research Center - QU, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and (MoPH); ‘A Comparative study on the presence and amount of anti-coronavirus antibodies against seasonal and zoonotic coronaviruses in humans in Qatar’ Published on February 2, 2019 by The Biomedical Research Center - QU and MoPH; and ‘Study on the complete structure of the coronavirus spike protein (viral thorn), its pre-bonding form with cellular receptors’, Published on March 2, 2016 by the National Institute of Health (USA) and Biomedical Research Center QU.
In order to reach out to the private and public health sectors in Qatar and to build the necessary capacity, the centre organised international workshops with the attendance of more than 300 experts in support with HMC, MoPH and international partners.
The centre seeks to engage the various sectors of the country in its research projects. In this regard, the centre has cooperated with ExxonMobil on the study of the DNA sequence of the Dugong (sea cow). It also cooperates with the Katara Al Ghannas Society on the ‘Decoding the Genetic Code of the Qatari Falcons’ project.
One of that the most important achievements of the centre is the establishment of a laboratory that matches the third level of laboratory bio-safety by CERTEK International, the US. The laboratories that specialise in infectious microbes are classified into four levels of bio-safety (BSL1, 2, 3, 4), based on the risk level of the studied microbes.
BRC was established in September 2014 with the aim of providing practical and logistical procedures to support multidisciplinary medical and biological research that are available at the college levels. In 2017, the centre obtained ISO 17025 certification in the field of diagnosing Legionella (culture testing) and Brucella microbes (serology testing). It is also on the path of acquiring a third accreditation for molecular testing.
The strategic vision of the BRC reflects the QU’s and the State’s strategy in general, especially as Qatar is passing through facing a blockade and the coronavirus situation. Based on these conditions, the centre has decided to focus its research interests on another important field -- disease-free food -- as a topic of a global concern.
Besides, the centre has launched research studies on epidemiology and molecular characterisation of the most common pathogens in the environment: air quality in health settings and water quality in waste water treatment plants. These projects are of utmost importance because of the expected mass gatherings when Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022.
Due to the expansion of the industrial sector in the country, the limited availability of land space and the rapid urban environment, the centre has taken the lead to identify and preserve the species of domestic creatures. As part of this, the centre seeks to decode the genetic code of various animal species under extinction threat. This will be done within the framework of the recently-established programme for environmental genome research.
The centre’s future endeavours include: developing scientific research on communicable and non-communicable diseases; training undergraduate, graduate students and technicians on using research cutting-edge technologies; increasing research output by publishing in reputable and high impact world journals; enhancing cooperation with local and international research centres; obtaining international accreditation according to ISO 17025-quality standard; developing and implementing a number of continued professional development programmes (CPD) through conducting workshops and seminars in the field of biomedical research based on the community needs; and cooperating with respective stakeholders and counterpart entities.
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