Towards Precision Medicine in Understudied Global Populations – The Qatar Experience

Achieving “personalized medicine” will require high quality genome interpretation, tailored to individuals in the context of their native populations. Over the past 5 years in Qatar there have been significant advances in this domain, driven by initial explorations of population genetic structure to recent identification of disease-causing genes and loci underlying both rare (Mendelian) and complex disorders. Through sequencing 2,500 Qataris to date, we have demonstrated a significantly under-appreciated diversity of modern day Arabs, as well as identified founder alleles for a range of different rare diseases relevant to the local population. Our data motivated the launch of the recent Qatar Genome Program, a nationwide, multi-stakeholder effort to sequence all ~280,000 native Qataris over the coming decade, tied to clinical data in a forward looking national Biobank. This talk will cover the trajectory that genome sciences has taken in Qatar over recent years and invite collaborations for the future, to deliver on the promise of using next generation tools to unravel human biology, and arrive at precision healthcare.