Supported by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the Department of Genetics and Genomics at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University has launched the first master’s programme in Genetic Counselling in the UAE.

The college aspires to enhance its outcomes by offering modern academic specialisations, providing the community with an elite group of medical graduates to meet the needs of medical institutions and to enhance clinical medical consultations.

Dr Muna Al Saffar, Director of the Genetic Counselling Programme at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UAE University, said: “The Master of Genetic Counselling programme is the first and only programme in the UAE. It is a two-year academic and clinical journey designed specifically for individuals who have a passion for pursuing a specialised profession to support and improve the wellbeing of individuals and their extended families who are diagnosed or at risk for genetic disorders. Our programme is dedicated to preparing our students with the needed skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on the well-being of individuals at risk or diagnosed with genetic disorders and most importantly to reduce the burden of genetic conditions in the community at large.

“Throughout the programme, we aim to foster and develop professional, qualified and competent genetic counsellors. We focus on nurturing the clinical counselling capability in various areas, including paediatric genetic assessment, prenatal diagnosis, cancer and adult genetics, in addition to attention to talents in psychological support, protecting patients’ rights, and developing skills in clinical genetic research and community service.

“Genetic counselling is a growing and required profession not only in clinical genetics, but also in academia and genomic research, in modern diagnostic laboratories, in health-related policymakers, and direct-to-consumer genetic services.”

Dr Rashed Obaid Alsuwaidi, the Executive Director of the Healthcare Workforce Planning Sector at the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), said: “The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi is proud to support the launch of the master’s programme in genetic counselling at the UAE University. This launch underscores our collective commitment to fostering and strengthening capabilities and expertise in areas of high demand such as genome science, genetic counselling, and personalised and precision medicine. This initiative contributes to our efforts to enhance the health and wellbeing of community members.”

Professor Fatma Al Jasmi, Chair of Genetics and Genomics at UAE University, said: “The programme provides a balance of cutting-edge genomic technology with strong psychosocial counselling skills and research training. The programme is designed for Emirati society and other multicultural backgrounds. The training will be applicable in the clinical setting within the different healthcare providers in the UAE. We aim to improve genomics care by training highly qualified competent, professional genetic counsellors.”