PhD in Genomics and Precision Medicine
PhD in Genomics and Precision Medicine

PhD in Genomics and Precision Medicine

An academic program catering to the needs of Qatar's growing health care sector. It provides theoretical and practical knowledge in genomics and precision medicine, and integrates patient-focused solutions.

Hamad Bin Khalifa University

Qatar is well-positioned to become a world leader in the provision of health care services, but to do so it needs to ensure that the next generation of health care professionals possess the knowledge and skills required to make the most of recent scientific developments – technological developments that are enabling experts to understand the biology of individuals at the molecular and genomics level as never before. 

Mindful of the need to bring fresh thinking to graduate programs in the life sciences, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) has created programs that, in a world first, provide advanced teaching across all aspects of genomics and precision medicine alongside extensive hands-on research and practical experience.

By offering its innovative new programs in this field, HBKU is supporting the significant efforts being made towards developing efficient, personalized medicine and patient-focused healthcare solutions in Qatar, and the world. 

Overview:

HBKU’s Genomics and Precision Medicine (GPM) programs are multidisciplinary graduate programs that have been designed to prepare the next generation of professionals and leaders, who will help implement the use of precision and personalized medicine in the healthcare system. 

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree path in GPM offers students advanced knowledge and training in state-of-the-art information gathering and analysis technologies in order to integrate “omics” – the branch of biology that deals with data on global changes at the molecular level in patients – with clinical data, thereby enabling the design and implementation of precision medicine principles in healthcare within Qatar and the region. 

Graduate students are given a unique opportunity to study all key elements of genomics and precision medicine in one innovative, multidisciplinary program. 

Having completed their graduate studies at HBKU, students will be well-prepared to take leading roles in the healthcare sector as well as in academia, industry, business, public service and many other exciting career paths. 

Outline for the GPM PhD program:

 

Year 1Semester 1 Semester 1 : Core Classes 
Semester 2 Semester 2 : Core and Elective Classes Semester 2 : BEGIN DESSERTATION RESEARCH
 RAC Meeting

Year 2Semester 3Semester 3 : Elective ClassesSemester 3 : DISSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 3 : RAC meeting
CONDIDACY EXAMINATION
Semester 4 Semester 4 DESSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 4 : RAC meeting

Year 3Semester 5Semester 5 : DESSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 5 : RAC meeting
Semester 6 Semester 6 DESSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 6 : RAC meeting
COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

Year 4-5Semester 7Semester 7 : DESSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 7 : RAC meeting
Semester 8-10 Semester 8-10 DESSERTATION RESEARCH Semester 8-10 : RAC meeting

SUBMIT AND DEFEND PHD DISSERTATION

 

Students take their core and elective course requirements in the first two to three semesters in the program and should aim to begin their thesis research no later than the second semester in the program.

During their tenure in the PhD program, students will have regular meetings with their Research Advisory Committee (RAC) - a committee that will give advice and help oversee the student’s progress.

In Year 2, students take the Qualifying Examination. This exam determines whether the student is ready to begin a period of research aimed towards a PhD. The examination provides the Qualifying Examination Committee and the student with means to assess the student’s mastery of the basic body of knowledge and development of the breadth and depth of scholarship that is expected of PhD candidates. 

After Year 3, students take the Candidacy Examination. This exam allows the Graduate Advisory Committee to thoroughly examine the student's preparation for dissertation research. Successful completion of the Candidacy Examination indicates that the student has a broad and in-depth background in biomedical sciences. It marks the watershed from taking courses to being a full-time researcher. 

To obtain their PhD, a student will have to write their dissertation and successfully defend it orally.


Program Focus

The exploration of a rigorous curriculum and practical training designed to provide a strong foundation as well as cutting-edge knowledge in both theoretical and applied aspects of genomics and precision medicine 

The development of vital professional skills, such as clear verbal and written communication, integrated teamwork, critical evaluation of others’ work, as well as each student’s own work 

Students will be exposed to the latest advancements in the field of genomics and precision medicine and will explore state-of-the-art basic, clinical, technological, computational, and legal and ethical aspects of a fascinating, fast-expanding sector of the life sciences 

Throughout their studies, students will examine aspects of the four main pillars of genomics and precision medicine: clinical aspects, technology, “omics”, and bioethics 

 

Curriculum

A program consisting of a minimum of 54 credits, taught in English, typically over four to five years that includes:

  • Mandatory foundation courses

  • A minimum of three elective courses

  • Participation in departmental seminars

  • Participation in the GPM journal club

  • Thesis work and laboratory training (a minimum of six semesters)

View Admission & Application Requirements

A list of GPM Core Courses:

Foundation courses are designed to cover four important multidisciplinary areas of GPM:

1.Clinical Applications for GPM: Covered by two courses entitled “Fundamental principles and steps of clinical applications for GPM” and “Research Methods and Ethics in GPM”.

2.Omics Data and Discovery: Covered by the course entitled “OMICS principles and application in disease diagnosis and treatment”.

3.Technology Development for GPM: covered by the course entitled: “Principles, tools and applications of Biomedical engineering in Precision Medicine”.

4.Ethical/Social and Legal implications of GPM: covered by the course entitled: “Ethics and Governance of Disease Diagnosis and Treatment”.

These courses are listed as follows: 

 

Fundamental Principles and Steps of Clinical Applications for GPM

This course will introduce students to the principles of designing, data monitoring, analyzing, and reporting clinical applications. Course participants will learn how to identify a scientific question that is clinically relevant as well as the various steps to test it. In addition, using examples from successful clinical trials participants will learn the various steps of the process from the initial conception of the hypothesis to the development of a clinical trial protocol that is followed by the execution of the study and ultimately the dissemination of research findings. 

Research Methods and Ethics in GPM

This course is a foundational course for graduate students who will be engaged in research in genomics and precision medicine. It provides students with an introduction to ethics and ethical misconduct, intellectual property and environmental health and safety as well as scientific thought and design of experiments.  A focus of the course is to transition students from textbooks to primary literature as their main source of information.

OMICS Principles and Application in Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

This course will provide the principles and the latest advances in ‘omics’ technologies. Students will learn how to interpret “omics” data and the various ways by which these data could be used in research discoveries as well as clinical applications to predict and/or diagnose diseases. Special attention will be given to the various approaches used in support of the Qatar Genome Program. 

 

Principles, Tools and Applications of Bio Engineering in Precision Medicine

During this course, participants will be presented with an overview of the various biomedical and bioengineering principles and tools and their application in genomics and precision medicine. Students will interact with clinical practitioners from WCMC-Q, SIDRA and HMC and assess the technological challenges that they face. The emphasis will be put on diseases relevant to Qatar and the region such as diabetes mellitus and obesity, cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. 

 

Ethics and Governance of Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

The main goal of the course is to provide students with the basics and guiding principles of ethical understanding of medical genomics and precision medicine. Many genetic analysis and tests can impact patients and their families beyond medical diagnosis. In particular, some of these tests could be used to predict outcomes and/or provide information that has the potential for being misleading or cause uncertainties. Participants will discuss ethical, legal and social issues that are associated with genetic testing.

Elective Courses

Elective courses are designed to provide in-depth knowledge in the four important multidisciplinary areas of GPM.

These courses are organized in four specialization tracks and students are free to choose courses from within these four tracks depending on their research interest. Below is a representative list of potential elective courses (this list is subject to change).

Technology Development

 

 

OMICS

  • Molecular Genomics
  • OMICS Techniques and their Applications to Genomics
  • Molecular, Cell and Tissue Biology
  • Bioinformatics, Interpretation, Statistics and Data Quality Assurance
  • Fundamentals of Data Management
  • Molecular Modeling and Database Mining
  • Medical Statistics

 

Technology Development

  • Biosensors
  • Medical Information, Telemedicine, Research and Evaluation in eHealth
  • Health Informatics: Foundation, Emerging Trends and Influencing Factors, Core Technologies and Systems
  • The Use and Evolution of Digital Data Analysis and Collection Tools
  • Physics for Biomedical Imaging

 

Ethical, Legal and Social Impact

  • Ethics, Governance, and Social Shaping of Digital Research and eHealth
  • Research Methods and Ethics
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Applied Genomics
  • Economic Models and Human Genomics

Research and Facilities:

Our faculty members are involved in a variety of research projects. Detailed information of each faculty’s research can be found on their faculty webpage. Researchers in our division have access to cutting-edge technology and equipment within the College of Science and Engineering, and also through collaboration with research institutes, such as the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) (http://www.qbri.org.qa/).