May 28, 2024

Establishment of first centre for unified biosecurity excellence announced in Doha

Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZ) and Doha Venture Capital (DVC) announced the signing of an agreement with the US Ginkgo Bioworks to build the first Center for Unified Biosecurity Excellence in Doha (CUBE-D).

The CUBE-Ds advanced platform is expected to serve as a nucleus for global pathogen monitoring efforts and be a key hub in Ginkgos bioradar network. Supporting global programs modelled in part after the USCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler Genomic Surveillance (TGS) programme, which tracks and analyzes pathogens collected at seven international airports in the US, CUBE-D will be a foundational piece of biosecurity and health security infrastructure in Ginkgos multi-continent, integrated early warning system for biological threats. It will be a first-of-its-kind regional centre in the Middle East.

The agreement was signed on the margins of the Web Summit Qatar 2024 in the presence of Minister of Communications and Information Technology HE Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, Minister of State and Chairman of QFZ and DVC HE Dr Ahmad Al Sayed and General Manager of Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks Matthew McKnight.

Dr Ahmad Al Sayed said: “We are delighted to welcome Ginkgo Bioworks, a pioneer in the biotech space and an anchor player joining an expanding community of innovative companies, within the free zones in Qatar. Ginkgos partnership with our tech development fund, DVC, will foster innovation and enhance the overall biotech ecosystem within Qatar and the broader region. At QFZ, we are aiming to become a place of choice for companies shaping the future of the biotech industry. We look forward to supporting and collaborating with Ginkgo Bioworks in their establishment and growth in the region and beyond.”

In the same context, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks Jason Kelly said: “The world needs effective biosecurity. Building hubs like CUBE-D to connect Ginkgos network of international biosurveillance nodes transcends regionalism and lays a foundation for the future. After all, biology doesn’t respect borders. I am proud of Ginkgos ability to synthesize this global immune system technically and socially, one node and hub at a time. Everybody’s health is connected, and CUBE-D is a foundational step forward for global biosecurity.”

For his part, General Manager of Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks Matthew McKnight said: “CUBE-D represents the next generation of biosecurity infrastructure. By leveraging lessons from COVID-19, Ginkgo is building a global bioradar system to detect a wide range of known and unknown biothreats. As a central connectivity hub with over two-thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight, we believe Qatar and its free zones are ideally positioned to anchor these bioradar efforts.”

With the new site in Doha providing expanded monitoring capabilities into the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and connecting to Ginkgo’s existing network across the world, the launch of CUBE-D will bring the world closer to the goal of creating global infrastructure to protect against biological risks, added McKnight.

Rwanda Minister of State for Health Yvan Butera said: “As inaugural members of Ginkgos global pathogen monitoring network, we are extremely supportive of expanded regional investment in high-end monitoring solutions and excited to have the opportunity to continue growing our biosecurity capabilities by leveraging partnership with the new Ginkgo CUBE facility in Doha.” CUBE-Ds advanced platform is expected to serve as a nucleus for global pathogen monitoring efforts and be a key hub in Ginkgos bioradar network. Supporting global programs modelled in part after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler Genomic Surveillance (TGS) program, which tracks and analyzes pathogens collected at seven international airports in the U.S., CUBE-D will be a foundational piece of biosecurity and health security infrastructure in Ginkgos multi-continent, integrated early warning system for biological threats.

CUBE-D intends to support the analysis of data collected from pathogen monitoring stations in both Qatar and partner countries, such as airports, municipalities, and agricultural sites by leveraging cutting-edge analytical platforms powered by artificial intelligence and developed by Ginkgo. Environmental and other anonymous, non-clinical samples will be regularly scanned for signals of emerging outbreaks, offering insight into how pathogens travel and evolve and building detection capabilities for natural, accidental, or intentional biothreats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QNA