ABU DHABI — The health ministry in the United Arab Emirates has called upon all citizens to participate in the Emirati Genome Program, a ground-breaking national genomics initiative and one of the world’s largest, and most comprehensive genomics programs.The program aims to provide the best healthcare system for all Emirati citizens, understand the nature of the genetic diseases prevalent among the UAE population, implement personalized medicine for Emiratis to provide accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, strengthen the prevention of genetic and chronic diseases in the coming generations, equip national competencies to reshape the future of healthcare policies in cooperation with the highest medical research centers, foster the country’s position as a global innovation hub in the health sector, and raise the country’s profile in the Global Competitiveness Index.Open for all UAE nationals, the Emirati Genome Program aims to deliver better insights into genetic variation in the Emirati population. By taking part in the program, participants will contribute towards a process of scientific discovery with potential onwards benefits, such as tailored healthcare strategies across the UAE, and support a transition from a reactive model of healthcare to more proactive and preventative healthcare management.
Launched in collaboration with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the program is one of the flagship initiatives of G42 Healthcare’s recently launched Omics Centre of Excellence, the largest and most technologically advanced omics facility in the region.The pilot phase of the Emirati Genome Programme was successfully concluded with G42 Healthcare experts building the first de novo Emirati reference genome based on DNA samples from 1,000 UAE nationals, using cutting-edge next-generation and third-generation sequencing with artificial intelligence. The reference genome will be used as a type-standard against which individual genomes will be compared in the diagnosis of genetic conditions and informing treatment plans to provide personalized healthcare for UAE citizens.Inviting UAE nationals to participate in the programme, Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said, “In line with the UAE’s vision for the “Next 50 years”, development of a preventive healthcare system is one of our key priorities.”
“As one of the most ambitious genomics program worldwide, Emirati Genome Program is our step towards providing preventive and personalized healthcare system for the Emirati population. I call upon all UAE nationals to participate in the program and support us in achieving our goal of providing innovative and world-class healthcare services to all Emiratis for a healthier future.”Al Owais added: “The Emirati Genome Programme is one of the flagship projects aimed to anticipate the healthcare future and enter a new era of genetic medicine based on the use of genetic information in clinical care. By using genetic science and modern technologies of sequencing-based genomic profiling to identify the DNA fingerprinting, the Program would help prevent genetic and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and asthma, as well as develop personalized treatment for each patient according to genetic factors.”Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer of G42 Healthcare, said, “Emirati Genome Program is set to create a new milestone in the field of UAE’s healthcare sector. We urge Emiratis across all age groups to participate in the program and contribute to a healthier future for generations to come. We are pleased to have received an overwhelming response with its launch in Abu Dhabi and looking forward to reaching more Emiratis across UAE, who will play a crucial part in shaping the future of the healthcare system of this nation.”The success of the Emirati Genome Program depends heavily on the voluntary participation of UAE nationals across the country. The more participants the Emirati Genome Programme has, the more comprehensive the resulting genetic data becomes, creating a rich base for scientists and medical professionals to build the Emirati reference genome.Emirati volunteers can now visit the sample collection sites in Al Maa’red Hall at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and the Biogenix Lab Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, where team members will be available to guide them through the process. Additional collection sites will be open across the country in the coming weeks and months. Participation is voluntary, and participants would be required to go through an informed consent process before joining the program.