Gulf News - 17/5/2006
The region's first life science and physics research centre is being planned with help from Italian scientists, following bilateral talks between Qatari and Italian authorities.
The Italians could also be the first to kick off a genetic mapping of the Qatari population.
Italy's Trieste-based AREA Science Park, one of the leading European multi-sector science and technology institutes, has applied to set up a branch in the Qatar Foundation's Science and Technology Park, Qatar's first free zone for companies and institutes conducting technological and scientific research.
The Middle East has no excellence centres in the field of biomedicine, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies and, if the demand finds approval, Qatar would become the first country in the region to host such a facility.
The Italian delegates, who meet health and education authorities in Doha this week, said the timeframe for the project was still unknown but bilateral talks had proceeded rapidly given the mutual interest in the initiative.
"AREA has a long lasting experience in managing innovation processes from fundamental research to market and could serve the Qatari Park's vision to bring to this region scientific research and technology transfer," a delegate told Gulf News.
The genetic mapping of the Qatari population, known as genotyping, would allow a study of the genetic cause for a number of complex hereditary disorders. Genotyping can help discover the genetic cause for hereditary disorders with a high incidence in small societies where consanguineous marriages are common. Qatar could be an ideal environment to conduct research and provide accurate diagnostic genotyping to patients with inherited diseases.
The Qatari Science and Technology Park aims to attract research centres as well as multinational companies that would conduct research and market their new technologies in Doha, while training Qatari human resources.
The delegation here met representatives of the Science and Technology Park and officials at the National Health Authority, following a recent meeting between Qatar's First Lady, Shaikha Mouza Bint Nasser Al Misnad, and the former Italian minister of Education, Letizia Moratti.
The project comes also in the framework of an ambitious long-term plan to reverse the brain drain from the Arab world.