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Abu Dhabi to improve healthcare services via Genome Program

The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi has announced the launch of the Genome Program, a national project set to use genomic data to improve health and well-being in the UAE.

The ground-breaking program aims to be the first of its kind worldwide to provide citizens with their own high quality genome as a baseline and incorporate genomic data into healthcare management.

This will be achieved by using advanced sequencing technology to generate the highest quality, most comprehensive genome data, a statement said.

One of the world’s top supercomputers, Group 42’s Artemis, located in Abu Dhabi, will be used to analyse the massive amount of data and generate new insights, it added.

The announcement comes as the understanding of genetic variation in the Arab population proves a challenge due to the lack of a high-quality Emirati reference genome.

The program aims to enrich the current data by producing a reference genome specific to UAE citizens and drive large scale scientific discovery.

The objective of the Genome Program is to advance health management and position Abu Dhabi as a research and innovation hub.

Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, chairman of Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: “Embracing innovation and providing a comprehensive healthcare program in the emirate of Abu Dhabi remains at the forefront of our priorities. Two of the world’s most exciting technologies – DNA sequencing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – will come together in this project.

“The Genome Program will enhance our knowledge of citizen’s genomes and establish a strong foundation of health and well-being.”

The program will be led by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and executed and delivered by Abu Dhabi-based technology leader Group 42, in collaboration with global genome sequencing leaders BGI and Oxford Nanopore Technologies.
Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) will apply the results of the Genome Program to ensure the delivery of world-class healthcare services, the statement said.