By Tom Arnold
Pharmaceutical uses set to be investigated by researchers from Gulf State and Italy.
Researchers from Qatar and Italy could soon be working together to explore the pharmaceutical uses of desert plants after an agreement was reached in Rome between Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and Italian biotechnology consortium Biogem.
The first phase of collaboration will see graduate students from Qatar University undertake a Masters programme in biotechnology conducted by Biogem.
Starting in January 2009, the programme will focus on green biotechnology, applying biosciences to the environment and developing products from natural sources, QSTP announced on Tuesday.
Joint research projects would be established between scientists in Qatar and Italy in the second phase, including studying the pharmaceutical properties of plants indigenous to Qatar such as the Sidra tree. The projects will be principally funded by QSTP.
“We are looking to build completely new knowledge-based industries in Qatar, especially in bioscience, and we can really accelerate this by working with Biogem’s scientists” said Dr Tidu Maini, executive chairman of QSTP, and Senator Prof Ortensio Zecchino, chairman of Biogem, during the announcement in Rome.
“Italy has some of the world’s top biotech researchers and there is tremendous value in linking them with our bright young scientists to study Qatar’s vegetation.”
Dr Sheikha Al Missned, president of Qatar University, said: “International collaborations are central to our strategy for building Qatar University’s research programs. Partnering with Biogem and QSTP means we can rapidly develop our young scientists while also becoming a biotech resource for other organisations in Qatar.”
Biogem is a non-profit Italian consortium in biology and molecular genetics. It is involved in research and education, while also providing services to biological industry.