Qatar Biobank Studies

Principal Investigator:
Prof. Rayaz Malik (Professor of Medicine & Senior Consultant, WCM-Q & HMC)

Mr. Georgios Ponirakis (Clinical Researcher)
Dr. Adnan Khan (Post Doctoral Associate in Medicine)
Dr. Ioannis Petropoulos (Post Doctoral Associate in Medicine)
Dr. Nahla Afifi (Scientific and Education Manager)
Prof. Ashfaq Shuaib (Director of Neuroscience Institute) 

Visual impairment in the form of low vision and blindness is a common disability affecting an estimated 160 million people worldwide. The exact prevalence and incidence of ophthalmic disorders in Qatar are currently unknown. The eye, due to its unique and easily accessible structure allows the systematic study of vascular disease. The size, shape and branching pattern of retinal vessels may offer a snapshot of an individual's cardiovascular health. In the past decade novel imaging biomarkers have emerged and have shown potential to act as surrogate endpoints of systemic disease such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, stroke and other neurological and vascular disorders. Screening harmonisation with current clinical protocols for ophthalmic disease could provide unique diagnostic and prognostic information for the individual and the Qatari population as a whole. Findings from the QBB could be used to establish a universal screening strategy to identify these sight-threatening diseases early to enable intervention and limit progression

Corneal Confocal Microscopy in Qatar BioBank participants

The current QBB screening protocol lacks a measurement for neuronal damage. And yet peripheral and central neurological diseases are highly prevalent in the general population, especially as a consequence of metabolic abnormalities, particularly prediabetes and diabetes. Given our expertise in the use of CCM as a diagnostic test for peripheral and central neurological complications we aim to:
  • Implement CCM screening in the current QBB protocol to identify the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy in the Qatari population, particularly given the high prevalence of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes.
  • Identify novel associations and risk factors for neuropathy in Qatar.
  • Utilize the detailed phenotyping of QBB participants to gain better understanding about disease mechanisms, investigate the genome-wide associations with neuropathy and discover novel clinical associations between corneal nerve damage and systemic disease.
  • Study the temporal relationship between retinopathy and neuropathy using highly sensitive methods.
  • Create a novel, world-class neuropathy screening service for patients in Qatar.
  • Create a clinical care paradigm whereby physicians and scientists will work collaboratively and translate research findings into clinical care to improve population health