His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, and Chairman of the UAE Genomics Council, has chaired the UAE Genomics Council’s meeting.
During the meeting, which took place at Expo 2020 Dubai, His Highness reviewed the UAE genome strategy and vision with the council members. HH also highlighted the importance of personalised care for each individual with a focus on prevention and improving overall wellbeing, and emphasised the crucial role of universities and healthcare providers in bridging the gap between research and clinical application. In addition, His Highness underscored the importance of collaborating with world-leading institutions on genomics.
Speaking at the meeting, His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed, said: “Our ambitious plans to develop game-changing genome programmes in the UAE are underpinned by world-class R&D infrastructure, which enables our nation to play a leading role in driving advancements in global genomic studies and innovations. At the core of our strategy is a desire to change the face of healthcare to become more personalised, enabling people not just in the UAE, but around the world, to live healthier lives.”
During the meeting, the board highlighted the significant capabilities already in place in the UAE as part of existing genome programmes underway at public and private institutions nationwide, including the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (New York University – Abu Dhabi), the Center for Genomic Discovery (Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences), the Dubai Genetics Center (Dubai Health Authority), the UAE University Genomics Laboratory, Khalifa University of Science and Technology’s Center of Excellence in Biotechnology (BTC), and G42’s Omics Centre of Excellence, which has partnered with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi on genome sample collection and sequencing activity in the emirate.
The UAE Genomics Council was approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in June 2021, with the aim of regulating, overseeing and guiding the incorporation of genomics into the UAE’s healthcare ecosystem as part of its efforts to provide personalised medical treatment for current and future generations.
UAE Genomics Council members include HE Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; HE Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention; HE Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology; HE Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; HE Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi; HE Awad Saghir Al Ketbi, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority; Dr. Amer Ahmad Sharif, Vice Chancellor of Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences; Professor Dr. Eric Xing, President of Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence; and George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
The UAE genomics program will provide a major stepping stone towards reaching the goal of providing personalised medicine in the UAE and will support initiatives in specialist areas of healthcare including advanced premarital screening, advanced prenatal screening, polygenic risk score reports, pharmagenomics (suitability of drugs), rare diseases diagnosis and treatment, and cancer genomics.