The Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy opens today, bringing together more than 450 attendees including key ethicists, policymakers and scientists from leading institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, the Gulf region and the Middle East.
“We have convened this conference because we recognize the potential that stem cell research has for human health, as our region faces a rise in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” said Dr. Abdelali Haoudi, Vice President for Research at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development and Acting Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute.
“Stem cell science stands out because of its many promising potential applications, which include the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of many life-threatening illnesses,” added Dr. Haoudi, who joins a lineup of high-profile regional and international speakers at the four-day conference.
Other featured speakers include Dr. David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine and President Emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, and Professor Irving Weissman from the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, who will examine the various challenges and opportunities that stem cell research presents in a panel discussion.
Professor Weissman will later moderate a session on the potential of pluripotent stem cells to treat a wide array of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes – a subject that could have practical applications for Qatar, where 20.2 percent of the adult population suffers from type-2 diabetes.
Additional panels will open dialogue in the field’s most controversial area of development - the use of embryonic stem cells for research and therapy - with scientists from Turkey, Iran and across the Arab world focusing on the importance of stem cell research for the Middle East.
Ambassador Edward Djerejian, the Baker Institute Founding Director, lauded the conference saying, "The Baker Institute is honored to be working with Qatar Foundation to host this prestigious and truly international event."
The Qatar International Conference on Stem Cell Science and Policy is the culmination of a series of initiatives led by Qatar Foundation to develop stem cell research in Qatar and the region through its partnership with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and in collaboration with Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies.
Over the next four days, the conference will explore the science, ethics and policy of stem cell research, discussing the latest developments in the field and paving the way for greater regional and international collaboration. Day 2 discussions will focus further on stem cell policy in the Middle East and highlight topics including hematopoietic stem cells and cancer, stem cell banking, and embryonic research and egg donations.