10th anniversary of the establishment of the Center for Arab Genomic Studies
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS). The Centre was established on June 25, 2003 with the aim of reducing the spread of genetic disorders in the Arab world and supporting the development of scientific research in this field.
Prof. Najib Al Khaja, President of CAGS and Secretary-General of Hamdan Medical Award, said that the directives by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance, President of Dubai Health Authority and Patron of the Award concerning the establishment of CAGS is a translation of H.H. long-term vision on the important role of Human Genetics in changing the features of the preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic systems for many diseases which may threaten the safety and security of our societies.
"Through the cooperation with the members of the Council and the Executive Board of CAGS which is formed of a constellation of significant Arab geneticists, CAGS has become a major representative of the Arab countries in international forums and global organizations such as the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) and the Variome Organization. Also, in 2012, the web site of CAGS was ranked the 1st website of the Institutes of biomedical sciences locally and the 2nd regionally", he said.
"The significant position of CAGS has not come from a vacuum, but it is the outcome of many years of hard work during which CAGS achieved great feedback from the international institutions and scientific communities. CAGS launched its free on-line Catalogue for Transmission genetics in Arabs (CTGA) on November 30, 2004. Since then, CTGA has rapidly evolved to become the largest Ethnic-Specific Database worldwide, playing a vital role in shaping a clear map of genetic disorders in Arab populations, and providing valuable information to researchers, doctors and policy makers, helping them in shaping their future plans to develop diagnosis and treatment systems in the Arab health care institutions", Al Khaja added.
"The CTGA has received an overwhelming response from researchers and geneticists all over the world, with more than one million visitors mostly from Western Asia, North Europe, North America and North Africa. The database currently records 1073 genetic diseases in 23 Arab countries and 449 related genes. Some of this information has been published in a series of books entitled "Genetic Disorders in the Arab world". Four volumes have already been issued on genetic diseases in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar, and the 5th volume on Kuwait will be published soon", he added.
"High-level genetic research activities are held by CAGS in cooperation with local and regional healthcare bodies. The results of these projects are expected to be positively reflected on the individuals and organizations in the Arab communities", he added.
At the same time, Dr. Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, Director of CAGS, said that based on its keenness on developing the new generations of the Arab geneticists, the Center has participated in many student conferences and workshops organized by the UAE academic and medical institutions, with the aim of training the students on the best practices of the usage of the database.
"The Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference, organized by CAGS every 2 years, is an important platform for strengthening the communication among Arab geneticists to discuss the latest regional and international scientific studies in that field. The 5th edition of the conference will be held in conjunction with the 2013 Golden Helix Symposium from 17 to 19 November, under the theme "Genomics into healthcare" with the participation of a group of geneticists from 15 countries around the world", he said.
Dr. Al Ali praised the awareness efforts by government and private medical institutions to strengthen the prevention systems of genetic diseases among all members of the community; an important tool of CAGS to stop the spread of genetic diseases in the Arab world. He added: "CAGS has participated with these institutions in the launch of several awareness campaigns on many genetic diseases. Also, the center has contributed in simplifying the language used in the explanation of genetic diseases to non-specialists by issuing the "Genetics Made Easy" series of booklets, three of which have been already issued on Cancers, Blood Disorders and Newborns Screening.
"Under the guidance of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance, President of DHA and Patron of the Award, the achievements of CAGS will be the momentum and the inspiration power for all of us to intensify our continuous work in the coming years toward developing scientific research in the field of Human Genetics within the Arab Region", Dr. Al Ali said.