Our Projects

Multiple sclerosis study

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik & Dr Ioannis Petropoulos (WCM-Q)

Dr. Saadat Kamran (HMC)

Official title: Imaging biomarkers to assess severity and progression of multiple sclerosis: A pilot study to assess feasibility and quantify nerve fiber and brain atrophy using corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) and MRI.

Study type: Longitudinal

Enrollment: 120 participants (90 with MS and 30 healthy controls)

Recruiting site: Neurology, Hamad General Hospital


  • Assess if corneal nerve loss occurs in patients with MS compared to healthy controls.
  • Assess if corneal and retinal nerve loss correlates with clinical disability and focal thalamic and whole brain atrophy.
  • Assess if corneal nerve fiber morphology is specific to the type of MS, i.e. clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and secondary progressive MS.
  • Establish that CCM has good intra- and inter-observer reliability in MS and can detect a progressive reduction in corneal nerve fibre parameters in patients with increasing severity of MS and in relation to optic neuritis (ON).
  • Assess if corneal nerve fiber loss occurs prior to and predicts RNFL thinning, focal thalamic and whole brain atrophy in patients with MS.
  • Establish the relative change in CCM and OCT imaging biomarkers, brain atrophy and clinical disability over 12 months. 

Stroke study

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik & Dr Adnan Khan (WCM-Q)

Prof Ashfaq Suhaib & Dr. Naveed Akhtar (HMC)

Official title: Role of corneal confocal microscopy in triaging TIA and minor strokes [CORTIAS]

Study type: Longitudinal

Enrollment: 520 participants (500 with TIA/minor strokes and 20 healthy controls)

Recruiting site: Neurology, Hamad General Hospital

Primary objective: 

  • To identify those patients with TIA/minor strokes who are at highest short-term risk of acute ischemic stroke or disease progression using CCM/OCT.

Secondary Objectives:

  • To establish if CCM/OCT/Sudoscan can be used as biomarkers that will identify high risk TIA/minor stroke patients.
  • To stratify patients with TIA/minor strokes into high, moderate or low risk and to correlate with small vessel disease burden.
  • To identify those TIA/minor stroke patients who need aggressive treatment with dual anti-platelets and risk factor control.
  • Evaluation of other risk factors in addition to CCM that could predict short-term risk of stroke/TIA.

Dementia study

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik & Georgios Ponirakis (WCM-Q)

Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad (HMC)

Prof. Omar El-Agnaf (QBRI)

Official title: Biomarkers of neurodegeneration in the eye and brain and blood-based transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics to predict the development of dementia in individuals with mild cognitive impairment

Study type: Longitudinal

Enrollment: 400 participants (100 cognitively healthy, 200 with MCI and 100 with dementia)

Recruiting site: Memory and Geriatric Clinic, Rumailah Hospital

Primary objectives:

Determine the diagnostic accuracy of corneal nerve fiber measures for MCI and dementia.

Determine the prognostic accuracy of corneal nerve fiber measures for MCI conversion to dementia.

Secondary objectives:

Determine the change in corneal nerve fiber measures and its association to dementia progression.

Compare the diagnostic and predictive validity of corneal nerve fiber degeneration to plasma and brain imaging biomarkers of neurodegeneration in dementia.

Determine the impact of diabetes on these biomarkers.

Determine the association of corneal nerve and endothelial cell abnormalities in relation to imaging markers of small vessel disease in MCI and dementia.

Children with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease study

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik & Hoda Gad (WCM-Q)

Prof. Anthony Akobeng (Sidra PI)

Official title: Corneal Confocal Microscopy and the Gut Microbiome in Children with Type1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Study type: Cross sectional

Enrollment: 80 participants (20 with T1DM, 20 with CD, 20 with both T1DM and CD, and 20 age-matched controls without T1D or CD)

Recruiting site: Sidra Medicine


  • To compare corneal nerve fiber density, length and branching as assessed by CCM between children with T1D, CD and both T1D and CD. 
  • To explore the relationship between corneal nerve parameters and known risk factors for neuropathy such as duration of disease, age, glycemic control (for patients with T1D), obesity, celiac disease activity (for patients with CD), thyroid function tests, vitamin D deficiency, compliance with gluten-free diet (for patients with CD).
  • To compare the gut microbiome in these different cohorts.
  • To explore any relationship between corneal nerve pathology and the gut microbiome.

Qatar Biobank study

Principal Investigator:

Prof. Rayaz Malik (WCM-Q)

Study type: Cross sectional

Enrollment: 1,000 participants

Recruiting site: Qatar Biobank (QBB)


  • Implement CCM screening in the current QBB protocol to identify the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy in the Qatari population.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Prevalence of diabetic neuropathy in primary and secondary care study

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik & Georgios Ponirakis (WCM-Q)

Dr. Tarik ElHaad (HMC PI)

Study type: Cross sectional

Enrollment: 3,250 participants with T2DM

Recruiting sites: Hamad General Hospital, Al Wakra Hospital, Umm Ghuwailina PHC, Al Rayyan PHC, Al Khor PHC and Al Daayen PHC, Al-Ribat University Hospital (Sudan) and Dasman Diabetes Institute (Kuwait).


The prevalence and severity of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, those at high risk of diabetic foot ulceration and associated risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.

Evaluation of CCM as a surrogate endpoint for the identification and prediction of diabetic neuropathy (NIH-DP3 multinational study).

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Rayaz Malik (WCM-Q & University of Manchester PI)

Prof. Bruce Perkins (Toronto General Research Institute PI, Canada)

Prof. Nathan Efron (Queensland University of Technology PI, Australia)

Study type: Longitudinal

Enrollment:1,040 participants (363 with T1DM without DPN, 151 T1DM and DPN, 241 with T2DM and without DPN and 283 with T2DM and DPN)

Recruiting sites: University of Manchester, Toronto General Research Institute and Queensland University of Technology


Evaluate the role of corneal confocal microscopy as an ocular biomarker of diabetic neuropathy in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to determine future risk of neuropathy.