Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and National Reference Laboratory Launch Genetic Counseling Service

Dr. Stephen Grobmyer, Chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: UAE residents concerned about their family history or genetic disease can now access targeted DNA testing and counseling at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, thanks to a partnership between the hospital and National Reference Laboratory, both facilities within Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers.

The launch of the genetic counseling service at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi comes as researchers continue to uncover genetic links to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  The service, jointly operated by the hospital and National Reference Laboratory, offers patients deep, targeted insights into specific areas of their genome in order to assess their risk of developing certain diseases or diagnose genetic conditions. Genetic counselors work with both patients and their physicians to tailor genetic testing to their specific needs, guided by family history or medical symptoms.

“The introduction of genetic counseling for patients at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an important step in our continuing mission to improve the overall health of the population. There are clear genetic markers that can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. If we are able to detect the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations linked to breast cancer for example, we can take appropriate steps to manage that risk with some treatments able to reduce their risk by 90% or more,” says Dr. Stephen Grobmyer, Chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Once areas of interest are identified, a detailed battery of genetic tests is conducted in partnership with National Reference Laboratory. Physicians hope that, as genetic testing becomes more widespread, it will enable researchers to build a more accurate picture of the health risks the population faces and uncover new treatments.

“The ultimate goal of genetic testing and counseling is risk mitigation and prevention. We employ a highly targeted approach to our testing. This personalized approach means that if a person has a family history of breast cancer, we will look at a gene panel based on their specific case to build a complete picture of their risk profile,” explains Rifaat Rawashdeh, a genetic counselor at National Reference Laboratory who plays a key role in the new service.

Following their tests, patients receive the results during an appointment with their genetic counselor. This provides an opportunity to have the results explained in detail, helping patients understand their level of risk and explore opportunities for preventative care or management of the condition. The appointment also enables the counselor to offer emotional support that might be needed. 

“The importance of providing emotional support is often overlooked. Simply receiving test results is not enough, especially given the nuances of genetics. If someone is found to be at greater risk than the general population, we are able to sit with them and explain what that means and what their next steps might be,” continues Rawashdeh.

As direct to consumer testing becomes increasingly popular as a means of determining ancestry and predisposition to certain conditions, the new service’s genetic counselors are keen to advise residents that without clinically guided and comprehensive testing, the results can be misleading.

“Direct to consumer testing is often very broad and can leave people overwhelmed with information without any support in interpreting the results. That lack of support can lead to both unnecessary anxiety and false reassurance depending on the results,” says Rawashdeh.

For more information about genetic counseling or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of world-class healthcare providers, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Investment Company:

Mubadala Investment Company is a sovereign investor managing a global portfolio, aimed at generating sustainable financial returns for the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Mubadala’s $232 billion (AED 853 billion) portfolio spans six continents with interests in multiple sectors and asset classes. We leverage our deep sectoral expertise and long-standing partnerships to actively source deals. In the UAE, we are driving sustainable growth by optimizing scale and efficiency, supporting the continued diversification and global integration of the local economy while growing our shareholder value. 

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala has offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, New York, San Francisco and Beijing.