File photo (Dubai Media Office)
File photo (Dubai Media Office)

Sheikh Mohammed approves formation of UAE Genomics Council

Abu Dhabi - The Emirati Genome Programme seeks to understand the genetic make-up of Emiratis and study the nature of genetic diseases prevalent among the population.

By Wam

Published: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 1:56 PM

A new council that will oversee the Emirati Genome Programme — the world’s first dedicated programme to study the Arab genome — has been formed in the UAE.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has approved the formation of the UAE Genomics Council in line with the country’s vision to create a world-class healthcare system.

The new council — to be headed by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office — will regulate, oversee and guide the implementation of the Emirati Genome Programme into the healthcare system across the country.

Also read: New centre to study genetic makeup of Emiratis

Incorporating genomics into the healthcare ecosystem is part of the UAE’s efforts to carry out preventive programmes that help reduce the prevalence of genetic disorders, disabilities and mortality rates.

The Emirati Genome Programme seeks to understand the genetic make-up of Emiratis; study the nature of genetic diseases prevalent among the population; and develop personalised medicine that can provide Emiratis with accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In Abu Dhabi, 18 sample collection sites have already been established for the study.

The UAE Genomics Council will oversee the execution of government genomics programmes and propose legislations to govern the field in coordination with health regulators across the country. It will regulate data acquisition and storage and establish a system for issuing ethics and consent approvals for all genomics programmes.

As part of its role in governing novel programmes, including the national biobanking programme, the council will support technology start-ups and companies and build partnerships with world-leading technology firms to drive cutting-edge genomics research.

Among the council’s responsibilities is supporting new innovative therapies for rare and chronic diseases and developing technical training and graduate programmes and knowledge incubators to build the next generation of omics professionals.

The council members include Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention; Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology; Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications; Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi; 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 at Mohamed bin Zayed University of AI; and George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

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