The Qatar Foundation is planning another big step forward for scientific research in this region, with a new stem-cell research centre near Doha. This is good for science and good for the region.
Qatar stem-cell project
Since its inception in 1995, the Qatar Foundation has supported and invested heavily in diverse projects in the fields of education and innovative technology.
And now the foundation is set to take another leap by launching a dedicated stem-cell research centre in Doha next year. This will be an addition to the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, founded four years ago, which has departments specialising in five areas: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease and neurodegenerative disease. The new stem-cell "biobank" will complement the research being done in all five centres.
Stem-cell research remains a controversial science in many countries because of pro-life opposition. The research in Doha will be founded in the ethical and religious findings of Islamic scholars.
"We can use tissues from embryos for up to 14 days after fertilisation," Abdelali Haoudi, the vice president of Qatar Foundation told Nature. "If all these conditions are met, then destroying these fertilised eggs is nothing but the destruction of human cells that have not been enlivened with the human spirit, and using them is favourable to wasting them."
With solid financial and ethical backing, the new centre could catapult Qatar into the forefront of cutting-edge research. The region and the world would be better for it.