The Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) has granted US$2 million to build the first stroke centre of excellence in the Middle East, run by a partnership between Imperial College London and Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar.
The researchers in the centre will be studying genetic factors in stroke patients from the Qatari population that could influence the risk of stroke.
While strokes account for only 3.23% of total deaths in Qatar, it is increasing. The main risk factors for stroke in the small country, according to a 2008 study, were hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Poor lifestyles and unhealthy habits, such as smoking, also increase the risk of stroke. Genetic factors and lifestyle factors are thought to be equally important for an individual’s risk of having a stroke, however.
“We’re already conducting similar studies in the UK and in India, but this centre will allow us to study the genes affecting stroke risk in a Middle Eastern population for the first time,” said Pankaj Sharma, who heads the Imperial College Cerebrovascular Research Unit and will become the director of the centre, in a press statement. ““This is important because different genes might influence stroke risk in different populations. The results will tell us about the biological causes of stroke, and could ultimately lead to treatments that are tailored to the patient’s ethnic background.”
As part of the agreement, Qatari clinicians will also receive stroke management training at Imperial College London.