Sidra Medicine Symposium “Functional Genomics and Beyond”


Sidra Medicine will address one of the most challenging questions in science when it holds its second Functional Genomics symposium on 12 – 14 December 2016 on the question of ‘nature versus nurture’.

This year’s Functional Genomics symposium is being hosted in collaboration with Nature Genetics, an internationally-recognized and high impact scientific journal on genetic research.  It builds on the success of last year’s symposium, as Sidra Medicine’s Research Branch continues to lay the groundwork for improved healthcare outcomes in Qatar.

Functional Genomics, the theme of the symposium, is the study of how genomic and epigenetic1 components function, interaction, and, ultimately program the pathophysiological process which explain what makes each person who he or she is.  It allows researchers to account for how our genetic make-up influences health or disease.  Alongside genetic traits, external factors – life experience, nutrition and the environment diet – play a role in determining the diseases to which people are predisposed.  By understanding how genes function, including their mutations, scientists and clinicians can better understand how to treat or cure human genetic diseases.

There is a vast difference between understanding how a gene functions versus merely knowing that a mutation exists, as Sidra Medicine’s Chief Research Officer Dr. Francesco Marincola explained.

“Understanding how genes function and what genetic defects an individual has, allows the research and medical community to target the appropriate treatment for a given patient.  This is the essence of precision, or personalized, medicine.  Our goal in Qatar is to advance genomic research and nurture the knowledge sharing with our local and international partners which will lead to treatments and cures for the most prevalent diseases and conditions affecting the local population.”

Attendees will learn about the real-life cures emerging from functional genomics research as world-renowned scientists and clinicians present state-of-the-art scientific discoveries addressing the interactions between nature and nurture and their impact on health.  The symposium will also address how these interactions are tackled and implemented in health care.  A one day on site training on new technologies and analysis tools will be hosted at Sidra Medicine following the two day symposium. An exhibition from leading technology and service providers, including F1000, a publishing platform for life scientists and clinicians, will also run in parallel with the symposium presentations.

Several Principal Investigators and geneticists from Sidra Medicine will be presenting at the Symposium including Dr. Wei Liu, Dr. Bernice Lo, and Dr. Khalid A. Fakhro.  Dr. Asma Al-Thani, Chair of the Qatar Genome Programme Committee and Vice Chairperson of Qatar Biobank, will address the link between the Qatar Genome Programme (QGP) and precision medicine.  Dr. Ronald Cristal and Lotfi Chouchane from Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar will present a genetic cohort study on the Qatari population.  International speakers include Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, the Chief Scientific Officer for the Genome British Columbia project from Canada; Dr. Francesco Cucca, Director of the Institute for Genetics and Biomedical Research from the University of Sassari, Italy and Dr. Mark M. Davis, Family Professor from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology from Stanford School of Medicine.

Dr. Ena Wang, Sidra Medicine’s research chief of translational medicine, said: “Genomic research is one of the major area in Sidra Medicine’s research strategy, and it is only right that we lead the discussion on genomics while bringing in our international peers to advance understanding and develop research synergies.”

This symposium is part of the Sidra Medicine Symposia Series.  Launched in 2015, it is directed towards academia, researchers, physicians, healthcare providers and regulatory agents involved in genomics and genomic medicine.  While Sidra Medicine seeks to lead the discussion in this area, the Series reflects Sidra Medicine’s cooperative approach to biomedical research, sharing knowledge and resources to benefit the Qatari and wider Arab populations.

The Symposium is also credited as an Accredited Group Learning Activity (Category 1) as defined by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners – Accreditation Department. It is approved for a maximum of 17 hours. Healthcare providers will receive a certificate for credit commensurate with the extent of their participation on the 12 and 13 of December, signing in/out, and completing the evaluation form.

Registered attendees will be eligible for a free one day Partek Genomic Suite, Partek Flow software training, Ingenuity and CLC Bio NGS Data Analysis and annotated software training on 14 December.