Biobank Qatar aims to establish a large national bioresource that will support the development of cutting edge medical research during the next decades. While the design of Biobank Qatar has similarities with other large-scale population-based prospective cohort studies established in other parts of the world, it is unique in the region and excels for its highly innovative scientific and technological features. Biobank Qatar will include up to 80,000 healthy volunteers, who will be followed up during the next decades to investigate the major behavioral, genetic and environmental causes of the chronic diseases most prevalent in the Qatari population. At the initial baseline visit the study participants will provide detailed information on lifestyle and medical history, a number of medical measurements will be made including ECG, spirometry, retinal image, pulse-wave velocity, anthropometric measurements, iDXA etc. Blood, urine and saliva samples will be collected, aliquoted and stored frozen for future investigations. A set of established clinical chemistry analyses (e.g. haematology, lipids, inflammation markers, hormones, nutrients) will be measured at baseline. During 2011-2012, activities focused on the establishment of protocols, clinical and IT facilities. A unique feature of Biobank Qatar is the comprehensive, real-time IT integration of all the baseline measurements. An initial test of the study protocol and clinical measurements was conducted December 2011 to May 2012 when 100 participants attended the biobank facilities at Hamad Medical City. Cooperation of the study participants was excellent. This initial sample provided helpful insights on some lifestyle and medical conditions. For example: - Sedentary lifestyle is highly prevalent. - High prevalence of participants having gained weight in a year. - Diabetics have higher body mass index and larger waist circumference than non-diabetics. - Short sleeping hours are associated with higher blood pressure. - Physical activity, even at modest levels, is associated with lower blood pressure and smaller waist circumference. These initial findings indicate feasibility of high quality data collection, and confirm well-known associations between lifestyle and metabolic features in the Qatari population. The initial test provides strong rationale for the extension of the Biobank to include large numbers of participants as planned.


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