Abu Dhabi: A national programme that will use large-scale genomic data to improve the health and wellbeing of Abu Dhabi residents was launched by the Department of Health (DoH) on Monday.
The programme aims to provide Emiratis with their own genome as a baseline, and then incorporate this genomic data into their healthcare management. According to a statement sent by the DoH, this will be achieved using advanced sequencing technology and a supercomputer, Group 42’s Artemis.
The supercomputer will be located in Abu Dhabi, and will analyse massive amounts of data to generate new insights.
The understanding of genetic variation in the Arab population is a challenge due to the lack of a high-quality Emirati reference genome. This project will therfore enrich the current data by producing a reference genome specific to Emiratis in a bid to drive large scale scientific discovery.
“Embracing innovation and providing a comprehensive healthcare programme 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 Programme will enhance our knowledge of citizen’s genomes and establish a strong foundation of health and wellbeing,” said Abdulla Al Hamed, DoH chairman.
The successful outcome of the programme is expected to equip physicians and other healthcare practitioners with high quality information and knowledge, thus enabling them to provide advanced diagnosis and treatment options. In addition, they will be able to deliver personalised preventive programmes tailored to each individual’s unique genetic makeup.
The DoH statement said that it will lead this ambitious project, and that it will be executed and delivered by Abu Dhabi-based technology leader Group 42, in collaboration with global genome sequencing leaders BGI and Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) will apply the results of the Genome Programme to ensure the delivery of top healthcare services.