Sidra Medical and Research Center today announced the opening of three core laboratories – omics core, genomics core and deep phenotyping core. The three labs have been developed as part of a state-of-the art translational research infrastructure to enable the implementation of precision medicine at Sidra.
Sidra’s Acting Chief Research Officer, Dr. Ena Wang said, “The opening of the core labs is a significant research milestone for Sidra and Qatar. They are equipped with some of the world’s leading technologies and staffed by a team of high caliber scientists, researchers and technologists from Qatar, neighboring countries in the Middle East as well as Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. Our high impact research programs are already helping to support the advancement of healthcare services for the women and children in Qatar.”
Sidra’s research branch aims to advance the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of diseases, develop early prevention, accurate diagnostic and advance therapeutics – which will help improve the health outcomes of the women and children of Qatar. To that effect, its research teams are currently working on several research programs that align with national priorities to help facilitate the prevention, early and targeted intervention for certain conditions such as cancer, obesity, preterm birth, genetic disorders that are affecting the local population.
The Omics Core lab has systems in place that can aid with the extraction of DNA / RNA from a range of sample types including saliva and blood samples. It has technologies for DNA genotyping, molecular karyotyping, gene expression, single cell sequencing as well as the associated capabilities for data analysis. Depending on the application, the advanced technologies can generate data within a single week.
The Genomic Core lab handles the sequencing of DNA extraction samples. It can support clinical genetic testing using whole genomes, whole exome or targeted sequencing. Sidra also has 10 Illumina sequencers which have the capability to sequence up to 18,000 samples a year. Both the Omics and Genomic Core labs provided sequencing support for the pilot phase of the Qatar Genome Programme.
The Deep Phenotyping Core (DPC) lab can assist with the manifestation of the expression of genomic information, at a molecular, cellular and functional level. It can monitor immune system changes in response to pathologic conditions such as cancer and infectious diseases. Some of the technological platforms in the DPC are unique to the whole Middle East and North Africa region and can also assist with biomarker discoveries in pathological and normal maternal-fetal dialogue.
Dr. Khalid Fakhro, Investigator (Human Disease Genetics) in the Division of Translational Medicine at Sidra said, “Sidra’s research core capabilities and capacity are advanced to also meet both national and international needs. In fact, the caliber of our research programs have made us competitive at an international level. We are helping to create comprehensive Qatari genomic databases – in collaboration with the Qatar Genome Programme – which will help form the building blocks for precision medicine, not only in Qatar, but in the wider Middle East.”
At a national level, Sidra currently has collaborations with Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar Genome Programme, Qatar University, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, Qatar Biobank, Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, Texas A&M, National Center for Cancer Care & Research, Interim Translational Research Institution (iTRI), Hamad Bin Khalifa University and the Anti-Doping Lab Qatar. Internationally it is actively collaborating with leading institutes in Saudi Arabia, the USA, Europe, Japan and Thailand.
Sidra is currently in the process of developing other service labs including a Zebrafish facility and a fourth core facility – a Clinical Research Center which will cover advanced cell gene therapy and regenerative medicine. The Clinical Research Center will be equipped with a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility to ensure that Sidra’s researchers will have access to the highest quality of biologic products to support clinical trials.