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Arab Genomic Studies
Top geneticists set to join CAGS
09 Dec 2003

The Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), established by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, will have now have a premise and a team of superb geneticists.

It be up and running by the end of next year, according to Dr. Yousef M Abdel Razak, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Sheikh Hamdan Foundation.

"We know that genetic diseases are the leading cause of death among new born babies, now that other known killers, such as infectious diseases, have been brought under control.

"The high number of consanguineous marriages and marriages between close cousins in the Arab region, is the main cause of genetic disorders. The first step is to find the cause of these diseases and identify the genes responsible for the disease, the second step is to find cures for these disorders and map the demographic prevalence of genetic diseases," Dr. Abdel Razak said.

He said the CAGS was set up to cater to the genetic research needs of all Arab countries, adding that it will be staffed by the best scientists and technicians. He said that delegations from the health authorities of several Arab countries have visited the UAE Minister of Health, Hamad Abdel Rahman Al Midfa, since the CAGS was formally established at a ceremony in June at Al Wasl Hospital, and have expressed enthusiasm for the project.

The workshop on genetic disorders in the Arab World held on Monday and the First International Genetic Congress, which was inaugurated today, are the first scientific meetings organized by the executive committee of the CAGS. Dr. Abdel Razak said that by the end of this year the CAGS premises should be completed.

Prof. Najib Al Khaja, President of the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, in his opening speech at the start of the genetics workshop on Monday, said that the CAGS has been established due to the impact of genetic disorders in the region and the necessity to alleviate the substantial suffering of those stricken by these diseases, for which reason Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Deputy Ruler and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, issued a decree for the establishment of the CAGS.

"Today we have pioneers in medicine from all over the world and the region to give us up-to-date information on a variety of inherited diseases occurring among Arab populations. I hope this workshop is successful in providing information as to the extent of the problem of genetic disorders in the Arab world," Prof. Al Khaja said.