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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of Qatar Biobank?

Qatar Biobank is a platform that will make vital health research possible through its collection of samples and information on health and lifestyle from large numbers of members of the Qatari population. Qatar Biobank, Qatar’s long-term medical health initiative, was created to give Qatar’s people better chances of avoiding serious illnesses, and to promote better health for our future generations.

Through its collection of samples and information on health and lifestyle, researchers will be able to understand why some people in the Qatari population develop certain diseases and why others do not.

Over the next few years, research enabled by Qatar Biobank will show how the health of the Qatari population is affected by their lifestyle, environment and genes. Qatar Biobank will, therefore, help improve the prevention and treatment of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity and other life-threatening and debilitating illnesses that affect communities in Qatar.

Qatar Biobank not only to aims to give the people of Qatar better chances of avoiding serious illnesses, but also to better safeguard and to promote better health for future generations.

Your involvement will give our future generations the promise of better, healthier lives.

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Who will be able to use my information and samples?

Only approved medical researchers will have access to the information and samples you provide. Their research credentials, the standing and reputation of their institutions and the worthiness of their research will be thoroughly assessed. Only researchers planning high-quality and beneficial research will be given access.

Even then, those given access will NEVER be told who you are. Any data that could easily identify you will be removed before we supply the information, so your privacy will be protected at all times.

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Who is organizing Qatar Biobank?

Qatar Biobank was created in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation and the Ministry of Public Health to enable local scientists to conduct medical research on prevalent health issues in Qatar. During the pilot phase, which concluded in February 2016, Qatar Biobank received the expert support of scientists from Imperial College London. Our centre is located at Building 17 at Hamad Medical City, Doha.

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Who can take part in Qatar Biobank?

Anyone who is an at least 18 years old and either a Qatari national or a long-term resident who has lived in Qatar for at least 15 years. There is no upper age limit and your current health status does not affect whether or not you can take part. Later, we will extend the invitation to younger people aged from 14 to 17 years.

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What does taking part in Qatar Biobank involve?

Participating will involve:

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Will I need to undress during my assessment visit?

Yes. You will be asked to remove your shoes and socks and clothing, and wear a gown to have the measurements taken. If you do not want to remove your shoes or clothes that is fine - we will not take those measurements.

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Will any of my assessment results be given back to me?

If you want them, you will be given some of the test measurements and results, including, height, weight, percentage body fat, blood pressure and lung function, plus how they compare with the accepted norms for your particular circumstances. A doctor will check your results and you will be advised if any results are not in the normal range, and a medical referral process will be available.

If you say from the start that you do not want to know any of your results, we will respect this and withhold them.

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What happens after the assessment visit?

For many years after the visit we would like to use the full medical health records of everyone who participates to track and assess their health.

At some time in the future, participants might be contacted by us and asked to attend another assessment visit. However, additional contact with Qatar Biobank is entirely optional.

All of your information will be entirely private and confidential.

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What happens to the blood, urine and saliva samples?

Small samples of blood, urine and saliva are collected from each participant during the assessment, which will allow a wide range of different tests. The samples will be processed and stored at Qatar Biobank’s laboratory.

Each sample is divided into several smaller samples for deep-freeze storage. Processing includes preserving the white cells in such a way that they can be grown, and thus provide more genetic material in the future.

The Qatar Biobank resource will become increasingly valuable for medical research over the years, so these samples may be kept for several decades. During this time, parts of the samples will be used up by researchers. At the end of their natural life, all the remaining samples will be securely destroyed.

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Are there any risks in taking part in Qatar Biobank?

Taking part in Qatar Biobank involves minimal risk, and all of the tests and measurements are non-invasive. Our fully-trained staff will consult you at every stage, and no test or measurement will be made without your full agreement

The use of your data will also involve minimal risk. We have taken great care to ensure the complete confidentiality of all your personal information.

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Is taking part in Qatar Biobank allowed according to Islamic law?

Yes. Islam is permissive when it comes to the use of biological information for research purposes if it is regulated within the context of culture and religion.

Qatar Biobank aims to comply with the Declaration of Kuwait, which deals with the Ethics of medicine in the light of Islamic law (Editorial, World Med J, 1982). The Declaration stated that the ethical conduct of research rests on three guiding principles: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Respect for persons underlies the duty to obtain informed consent from study participants. Beneficence demands a favorable balance between the potential benefits and harms of participation. Justice requires that vulnerable people are not exploited and that eligible candidates who may benefit from participation are not be excluded without good cause.

Further to the Declaration of Kuwait, Islamic scholars met at an international session in Qatar to discuss biomedical research and have developed a fatwa based on the Qur’an and Hadith (statements of the prophet). They permit the use of biological information for research and therapy, and see biomedical research as a very important tool for scientists in this part of the world.

Going forward, ongoing work is being done to ensure that Biobank remains compliant with Islamic Law - Qatar Foundation has developed a partnership with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas, to develop a policy on the ethical implications surrounding biomedical research. Also, Qatar Foundation has recently launched the Center for Islamic Law and Ethics, and Qatar Biobank will work with this center to ensure that the work we do is compliant with Islamic law and ethics.

Will I be asked to provide feedback on my experience at Qatar Biobank?

Yes, your feedback is very important to us. We welcome your thoughts on what works well and what works less well so that we can continually improve and develop Qatar Biobank in a way that our communities understand and value.

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Can I eat and drink before my appointment with Qatar Biobank?

There is no need to fast before your appointment, you can eat and drink as normal before arriving at the Qatar Biobank center.

Please note you will be offered water at the start of your appointment and your next opportunity to eat and drink will be at the end of your appointment where we will offer you some light refreshments.

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How will my personal information be kept secure?

Protecting the confidentiality of our participants is a top priority for us. We have put rigorous processes in place, including access control, computer security, confidentiality agreements and staff training.

If I agree to take part in Qatar Biobank, what happens if I change my mind?

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How can I book an appointment to participate?

Please either simply reply to your invitation email or call our contact center at 44541177. Appointments are available from Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

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Where can I get further information?

To become a contributor to Qatar’s healthier future, please call 44541177 or email takepart@qatarbiobank.org.qa

To find out more, please also follow us on twitter @Qatar_biobank

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