The Genome Program aims to advance the health and wellbeing of the population, supporting the development of healthcare strategies in the region. This will be driven by improving our understanding of genomics in the local population, which will establish the foundation for innovation in health and wellness.

The Genome Program will have two stages:
a. Research Stage: That focuses on understanding the genetic variation of the population;
b. Strategy Stage: That aims to deliver improved health outcomes on the basis of research insights.

This ambitious program will be led by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) and 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 Population Genome Program to ensure the delivery of world-class healthcare services.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the genetic code that determines all the characteristics of a living thing. A genome is the entire genetic code for an individual.

Genomics is the study of entire genomes. Insights into an individual’s genome, a cohort of genomes, or in some cases the genome of diseased tissue, can help us understand the risk or nature of disease. These insights have the potential to deliver more precise treatment strategies with the goal of improved health outcomes. Precision medicine is a rapidly growing field, and improving genomic datasets are contributing to its evolution.

The project will be executed in phases. An initial phase will be to sequence 100,000 samples.

The understanding of genetic variation in the Arab population is a challenge due to the lack of a high-quality Emirati reference genome. This program will enrich the current data by producing a reference genome specific to the population of the UAE and drive large scale scientific discovery.

The project aims to deliver better insights into genetic variation in an Emirati-specific population, and so participants would be contributing towards a process of scientific discovery with potential onwards benefit. The project also aims to provide citizens with their own high quality genome as a baseline and incorporate genomic data into healthcare management. Participation is voluntary and participants would be required to go through a informed consent process before joining the program.

This project aims to understand the relationship between genomics and disease in a way that is specific to the local population health and wellbeing. Subsequently, the project aims to use these scientific insights as a foundation for more precise and proactive healthcare management. This may take the form of public health strategies or screening when approaching common diseases such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. It may also enable healthcare professionals to deliver more personalized treatment strategies, like cancer treatment. Ultimately, the project aims to support a transition for citizens from a reactive model of healthcare to more proactive and preventative healthcare management.

All details of the participation process and procedures will be made available in early 2020 through the Department of Health and SEHA.

Yes, it is a voluntary program and free of charge for UAE citizens.

The data will be encrypted and stored in the UAE government cloud located in Abu Dhabi and protected by the UAE Privacy Law and regulated by the Department of Health. The program is committed to the highest levels of privacy of every participant, and is currently developing strategies and processes to ensure that the highest standards will be met. We will share further details in 2020.

All data will adhere to national data protection laws and will be encrypted and stored in the UAE government cloud, located in Abu Dhabi. The data is restricted from leaving the country. The program is committed to the highest levels of data security for every participant as per UAE law.