Scientific leaders in the UAE discuss future of healthcare and role of genomics on the International DNA Day

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  • Webinar organized under the theme ‘Unlocking the potential of the genome’ saw participation of senior spokespeople from DoH, UAE University and G42 Healthcare
  • The Emirati Genome Program is aligned with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi’s strategy that is focused on  establishing the emirate as a hub for medical research and innovation

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: On the occasion of International DNA Day, G42 Healthcare hosted a webinar titled ‘Unlocking the potential of genome’ that brought together scientific leaders from the UAE to discuss the importance of genomic research, path-breaking advances in the field, and the value of genomics in transforming the healthcare infrastructure. 

International DNA Day marks the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA’s double helix in 1953. 

The webinar featured an engaging panel discussion attended by well-known experts from the field of healthcare and genomics, including Dr. Asmaa Al Mannai, Executive Director Research & Innovation, Department of Health – Abu Dhabi; Dr. Fatma Al Jasmi, Professor and Chair of Genetic & Genomic, Department at College of Medicine and Health Science at United Arab Emirates University, and Dr. Walid Zaher, Chief Research Officer, G42 Healthcare and was moderated by Dr. Ahmad Al Awadhi, Outreach Director at G42 Healthcare. 

During the session, the panelists shared important insights on how genomics can fuel innovation in the healthcare ecosystem and the crucial role national genomics initiatives such as Emirati Genome Program can play to combat genetic and rare illnesses, the benefits behind Emiratis’ participation in the EGP, and delivering on a more personalized and preventive healthcare vision. 

A strategic public-private partnership between Department of Health, Abu Dhabi, and G42 Healthcare, Emirati Genome Program aims to better understand the unique genetic makeup of Emirati nationals, and enable a preventive healthcare system in the UAE. 

Dr. Asmaa Al Mannai, Executive Director Research & Innovation, at the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi said, “In our endeavor to provide the best healthcare system for our citizens, we realize that the future of healthcare lies in genomics, one of the most transformational forces of our time, that is creating a path toward personalized insights and scientific discovery.”

“Innovation and research are key goals for us at Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and we are committed to working with our key partners to transform the Emirate as an internationally recognized innovation and medical research hub. This is brought to life by supporting the Emirati Genome Program, which mirrors our strategy of propelling healthcare innovation to enhance healthcare delivery in Abu Dhabi and beyond,” added Dr. Al Mannai.

Dr. Fatma Al Jasmi, Associate Professor and Chair of Genetic & Genomic Department at College of Medicine & Health Science, UAE University, added, “We are living at the dawn of a new era of discovering and understanding the role genomics in diagnosis and treatment of genetic illness, and paving the way for personalized healthcare. Advances in DNA sequencing is enabling us and the broader medical community to investigate our very own genome and use this knowledge for better healthcare outcomes for our community and beyond. A national program like Emirati Genome Program has a huge potential to improve the healthcare system

 as we know it. We all must come together as a community to make this program as success.” 

Dr. Walid Zaher, Chief Research Officer at G42 Healthcare said, “At G42 Healthcare, we think genomics is the future of medicine, and we are honored to be a part of this project which will lay the foundation for Emirati generations to enjoy world-class healthcare in the future. Our aim is to sequence the entire Emirati population in a short time frame and have enough evidence and research generated for regulators, academic and healthcare professionals, care providers and the broader private sectors to come together to reshape and build proactive and personalized medicine for the country.” 

All Emirati citizens, regardless of age, are invited to participate in the program by providing blood samples at any of the collection sites, which include the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Biogenix Labs in Masdar City, Al Towayya in Al Ain, Al Ain Convention Center and CurePlus Medical Centre, Al Ain. This is in addition to NMC Healthcare’s network in Abu Dhabi, which includes NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Bareen International Hospital, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain, NMC Royal Medical Center- Abu Dhabi and NMC Royal Women’s Hospital.

Citizens can also visit Burjeel Hospital’s network of medical facilities in Abu Dhabi, which include Burjeel Medical City in Mohamed Bin Zayed City, Burjeel Oasis Medical Center in Madinat Zayed, Burjeel Medical Centre in Deerfields Mall, Burjeel Medical Center at Al Shamkha and Burjeel Royal Hospital, Al Ain. 

Moreover, additional centers have been added recently which include Mubadala Health’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICDLC), Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, as well as Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), in addition to a mobile unit at Hudayriyat Beach

For more information and details around the Emirati Genome Program, including complete participation information, citizens are encouraged to visit www.emiratigenomeprogram.ae or dial 800 UAE GENOME

About the Emirati Genome Program:

The Emirati Genome Program (EGP) is the world’s first dedicated program to ever study the Arab genome. This initiative is a strategic public-private partnership between Department of Health, Abu Dhabi, and G42 Healthcare to refine the de novo Emirati reference genome with the intention of transforming the UAE healthcare to preventive systems and future proof the health of the nation.  G42 Healthcare, the leading Abu Dhabi based HealthTech company that was responsible for setting up one of the world’s largest testing and diagnostics laboratory to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and for conducting the world’s first Pan Arab clinical trials for COVID-19 inactivated vaccine, has established a state-of-the-art research and innovation hub at OMICS Center of Excellence in Masdar City. The Emirati Genome Program (EGP) has already referenced the Emirati genome based on DNA samples from 1,000 UAE nationals using cutting edge next and third generation sequencing with artificial intelligence, and now extending the study to the wider Emirati population making EGP the most ambitious genomic program worldwide.

About G42 Healthcare:

G42 Healthcare, a leading health-tech company, is on a mission to develop a world-class healthcare sector in the UAE and beyond, by harnessing data and advanced medical technologies to unlock the potential of personalized and preventive care and transforming the traditional healthcare ecosystem.

At the forefront in the battle against COVID-19, we have established Biogenix Labs, UAE’s first COVID-19 accredited large-scale throughput laboratory, facilitated the 4Humanity clinical trials, the world’s first phase three trial for inactivated vaccine against COVID-19 with over 43,000 volunteers from 125+ nationalities across the pan-Arab region, supported UAE’s healthcare authorities on the national vaccination implementation, employed advanced AI techniques and vast computing resources to accelerate the detection of COVID-19, conducted research into new vaccines and drug therapies, and built Omics Centre of Excellence, the region’s largest and most technologically advanced omics facility that is the backbone for the Emirati Genome Program, the world’s most comprehensive population genomics initiative.

Beyond COVID-19 we have plans and R&D encompassing genomics, imaging and diagnostics, digitization programs, to support the health of future generations. At G42 Healthcare, our plans are large in scale and bold in ambition. We partner extensively with governments, leading international entities, scientists and researchers and the wider medical community who subscribe to our values and our mission as we develop solutions to future-proof the health of nations.