Call for UAE nationals to participate in the ground-breaking Emirati Genome Program
- The Program will build the first Emirati reference genetic code, or genome, which will significantly improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for Emirati citizens
- DoH Chairman is the first Emirati to participate, followed by his team
- The Program is one of the flagship initiatives of G42 Healthcare’s recently launched Omics Centre of Excellence, the largest facility of its kind in the region
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; February 10, 2021: The Emirati Genome Program, a ground-breaking national genomics initiative from G42 Healthcare and one of the world’s largest, most comprehensive and ambitious programs, is now open for all UAE nationals to participate in its extended pilot phase. This follows the success of the early pilot phase in which 1,000 blood samples, collected in collaboration with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), were analyzed to create a standard reference Emirati genome. Guided by the wise vision of the UAE’s leadership, the Program aims to leverage genomics to build a healthier future for all Emiratis and further establish the UAE as a hub for research, innovation and personalized health.
The Program commenced at the recently inaugurated Omics Centre of Excellence by G42 Healthcare, with participation from Department of Health – Abu Dhabi Chairman, H.E. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed; H.E. Dr Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary, and Dr Asma Al Mannaei, Director of the Healthcare Quality Division at the DoH.
The Program will be fully executed from sample management to sequencing at the Omics facility, which is the largest in the region in terms of technology coverage, automation, computational capacity, and throughput.
Progress on the Program so far has seen experts build the first de novo Emirati reference genome based on DNA samples from 1,000 UAE nationals. The samples were analyzed using cutting-edge next generation and third generation sequencing (NGS and TGS) with artificial intelligence.
This de novo reference genome will be validated and further refined by collecting additional samples from Emirati volunteers across the UAE. The more participants the Emirati Genome Program has, the more comprehensive the resulting genetic data becomes, creating a rich base for scientists and medical professionals to build the Emirati reference genome. Ultimately, the Emirati Genome Program will help transform the UAE’s healthcare system by moving the country towards personalized healthcare that is tailored to individual Emirati citizens and others, significantly improving disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Commenting on the start of the Program, H.E. Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: “The UAE has long been at the forefront of providing the highest quality healthcare services for its people. By embracing scientific research and leveraging cutting-edge technologies, the Emirati Genome Program will further advance our healthcare system and benefit generations of Emiratis, residents and the wider world. It will enable scientists to explore the genetic make-up of the Emirati people and equip our medical professionals with the necessary knowledge and tools to better care for their patients. I have personally participated in the Program, and encourage all UAE nationals to participate. You have already shown the world your amazing spirit by volunteering in the clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines, and this is your chance to contribute towards our developing our healthcare systems even further.”
In the Program’s initial phase, Emirati volunteers can visit the collection site in Al Maa’red Hall at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). The site will be open from 9am-5pm on weekdays. Participating is simple: volunteers will meet healthcare professionals, who will explain the process and ask basic personal health questions. Once a consent form is signed, nurses will draw a blood sample from the volunteers. This will then be stored anonymously in a secure facility, to be used only for the purposes of the Emirati Genome Program.
Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer of G42 Healthcare, said: “The Emirati Genome Program is a prime example of how technology can be leveraged to benefit humanity. It is a keystone project for the newly opened Omics Centre of Excellence, and will define how valuable cutting-edge tech solutions are for building healthier, more sustainable communities. This Program has the potential to transform the healthcare system as we know it. Our aim is to make it easy for every UAE citizen to do their part and volunteer to participate for the benefit of future generations. G42 Healthcare is proud to partner with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi to make the Program a success.”
More details of the Emirati Genome Program, including complete participation information, can be found at www.emiratigenomeprogram.ae or by calling 800 UAE GENOME. Emirati volunteers can register for the Program on-site at ADNEC, where team members will be available to guide them through the process.