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Arab Genomic Studies
Students steered towards genetics
21 Dec 2009

Experts will encourage students this week to pursue careers in the cutting-edge field of genetics so that they can contribute to national research into life-threatening hereditary diseases such as thalassaemia.

The Genetics and Biotechnology Conference began yesterday at Zayed University in collaboration with the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, Japan’s Yamaguchi University and Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech).

The opening of a nucleotide laboratory complex last year at DuBiotech signalled the UAE’s interest in accommodating research companies. However, long-term success in the research of hereditary illnesses in the Emirates was in the hands of the next generation, said Marwan Abdulaziz, the director of DuBiotech. Campaigns had been carried out in local schools to encourage students to pursue science degrees in higher education, he said.

The three-day event began with lectures and presentations from 11 genetic-disorder specialists, including professors from the Yamaguchi School of Medicine, which is supporting the work of the Genetic Disease Association. “Our main target is those students in the biotechnology field, especially those in their early years, before their PhDs,” said Dr Maryam Matar, the executive director of the association.

“We are targeting them to be interested in the field of genetic disorders so we may have more UAE-based, especially UAE-national, staff in future.”

According to research by the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, which was established in Dubai in 2003, more than 70 out of every 1,000 children born in the Emirates, Kuwait and Oman have a birth defect.