Date palm research proposal wins major Qatar award

May 2, 2012

A proposal that addresses major challenges to date palm research in Qatar has won the first award of the National Priorities Research Programme – Exceptional Proposal (NPRP-EP).

The awarded proposal, “Establishing world leadership in date palm research in Qatar” was submitted by Professor Karsten Suhre, Director of the Bioinformatics Core at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q).

The proposal combines two innovative technologies, genomics and metabolomics, in an interdisciplinary approach to date palm research, addressing major challenges of the field, Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), said.

“The proposed research is considered to be highly innovative and has great potential to generate IP rights and patents, which will position Qatar as an international leader in date palm research with positive benefits in terms of fundamental innovation in applied biotechnology,” Abdul Sattar Al Taie, Executive Director, QNRF, said. “It is also expected that the research outcomes will lead to opportunities for economic development and diversification in Qatar.”

WCMC-Q is collaborating with the Biotechnology Center at Qatar’s environment ministry, the Helmholtz Centre in Munich, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, and the European Institute for Research and Development.

NPRP-EP is an extension of QNRF’s flagship funding Programme, the NPRP, and gives an extra funding opportunity for proposals of exceptional scientific merit that require resources in excess of the normal level of NPRP funding. The maximum budget is $5 million for a period of up to five years.

The programme solicits applications from scientists with exceptional ideas, approaches, procedures and models that may solve key issues of national, regional or global interest.

Application to the programme is open throughout the year, where Lead Principal Investigators (LPIs) first submit an Initial Research Proposal (IRP) containing around 10 pages of information about the proposal that will be given as a presentation in front of a panel of expert and stakeholders.

The gating procedure leads to the next step of submitting the full proposal, and those who are approved by the panel are allowed to submit a full proposal that is sent to seven peer reviewers for evaluation. The award decision is based on the score and the peer reviewers’ comments that are shared with the panel for their final recommendation.

“Proposals submitted for the NPRP-EP are expected to contain exceptional ideas and so be of great significance to Qatar, hence the panel gating stage at the beginning,”

Noor Al Merekhi, NPRP Programme Manager, said. “The submission for the NPRP-EP is open, and we currently have eight proposals in different research areas that passed the panel gating and are in the process of having their full proposals submitted to us.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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