Following the award of a five-year programme funding by Qatar Foundation’s Qatar National Research Fund and co-funded by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) through the Academic Health System (AHS), the region’s largest diabetes research project, the Qatar Diabetes Prevention Program (QDPP), is set to begin.

Professor Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, Director of the Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI), Chairman of Internal Medicine at HMC, and Director of the QDPP, explained:

Diabetes is one of the most pressing health conditions in Qatar. It is estimated that at least 17% of the adult Qatari population have diabetes and this number is expected to rise unless wide scale steps are taken to change behavior and address the risk factors associated with diabetes.

QDPP addresses the full spectrum of issues related to the development of diabetes and this research will identify genetic and molecular factors associated with pre-diabetes, in turn helping to target individuals at increased risk who could benefit from early intervention.’

The flagship research programme is the result of a multi-institutional research collaboration between healthcare, education, and research organisations. The research programme aims to identify the best methods to predict, prevent, and reverse type 2 diabetes.

Professor Michael Frenneaux, Chief of Scientific, Academic and Faculty Affairs at HMC, explained:

The Academic Health System seeks to transform healthcare by ensuring that research and education are seamlessly integrated with clinical practice through close collaboration between healthcare providers and academic partners in order to drive clinical innovation and improve patient care. QDPP demonstrates how collaboration among the AHS partners can help to improve the health and well-being of the people of Qatar.’

The QDPP is comprised of seven complementary sub-projects: Project 1 aims to prevent the progression of pre-diabetes into type 2 diabetes; Project 2 aims to find the best method to prevent gestational diabetes in subjects with diabetes risk factors discovered in pre-marital screening; Project 3 aims to find the best method to prevent progression of gestational diabetes into type 2 diabetes; Project 4 aims to achieve diabetes remission in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes; Project 5 aims to identify genetic factors associated with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes; Project 6 aims to identify proteomic and metabolic markers, associated with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes; and Project 7 aims to develop eHealth tools and evaluate mobile apps to support lifestyle intervention for diabetes prevention and management.

The research project will support the National Diabetes Strategy, led by the Ministry of Public Health and specifically the launch of a country-wide screening programme through HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC).

Dr Samya Ahmad Al Abdulla, Executive Director of Operation at PHCC, said:

PHCC is performing multiple screening programmes to identify populations at risk which will support QDPP. Successful implementation of the family medicine programme and SMART Screening in 27 health centres provide a comprehensive and continuous foundation in a personalised manner and forms the foundation for the prevention programme.’

Weill Cornell College of Medicine, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar Genome Programme, Qatar Biobank, Qatar Diabetes Association, Sidra Medicine, and Droobi Health will also participate with HMC and PHCC in the initiative.

Dr Asmaa Al Thani, Chair of the Qatar Genome Programme, Vice-Chair of Qatar BioBank, and Dean of the College of Health Sciences, Qatar University, calls the project an important opportunity to progress the understanding of precision medicine, and in turn the ability to guide healthcare decisions toward the most effective treatment for each patient:

The Qatar Genome Programme in collaboration with Qatar Biobank provides an important platform upon which to elevate Qatar as a pioneer of precision medicine with the capability of serving the health needs of the Qatari population. QDPP presents a rare opportunity to bring together the wealth of knowledge and expertise in Qatar to address a major worldwide health concern.’

QDPP has also engaged several global leading experts from Kings College London, Imperial College London, University of Glasgow, University College Dublin, and the University of Valencia. The programme signifies an important milestone in diabetes prevention in Qatar and will start recruitment in early 2020.

For further information about the Qatar Diabetes Prevention Program, please contact [email protected].