The facility will contribute to a series of initiatives that will enable healthier communities – including the breakthrough Emirati Genome Program
G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 (G42), held an official inauguration ceremony for its Omics Centre of Excellence, attended by His Excellency Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), and H.E. Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of Department of Health – Abu Dhabi. The facility is the latest addition to G42 Healthcare’s long list of initiatives, and will become home to a series of Omics projects such as the Emirati Genome Program.
Dr. Asma Al Mannaei, Director of Healthcare Quality Division, DoH, and Dr. Omar Najim, Executive Office Director at DoH, also attended the event. They were joined by Peng Xiao, CEO of G42; His Excellency Mansoor Al Mansoori, COO of G42, and Ashish Koshy, CEO of G42 Healthcare.
Located in Masdar, Abu Dhabi, G42 Healthcare’s Omics Centre of Excellence is the region’s largest and most advanced Omics facility in terms of technology coverage, automation, computational capacity, and throughput. The centre has the highest level of automation in sample and library prep, as well as the region’s largest computational resources in terms of processing power and storage.
It features the Middle East’s largest Third Generation Sequencing (TGS) platform, and is planning to add the state of the art equipment for Optical mapping to its facilities, allowing better structural variation studies in Genomics. The Omics Centre balances TGS with Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platforms, and will also leverage the Sanger sequencing method for validating novel genetic mutations.
His Excellency Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: “Improving the well-being of our society and transforming healthcare is a priority of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi. We welcome initiatives such as this one, G42 Healthcare’s Omics Centre of Excellence, which result in positive outcomes for the local community while elevating the healthcare sector’s ecosystem and available infrastructure. By employing the most innovative technologies to date, and with a strong Emirati representation in the centre as well as throughout the company’s other initiatives, this groundbreaking facility will lay the foundation of a healthier future for all in the UAE.”
Following the opening ceremony, H.E. Al Hamed and the DoH representatives were given a tour of the centre. They were provided with an outlook of the future of Multi-omics, service offerings and key projects that the centre is already involved in, such as the Emirati Genome Program and viral genome sequencing and DOH Chairman even donated his blood, becoming the first participant in the Emirati Genome Program.
One of the world’s most ambitious genomics programs, the Emirati Genome Program is an extension of the Population Genome Program which was launched earlier in its pilot phase to create reference Emirati genome. The Emirati Genome Program will explore the genetic makeup of Emiratis, using cutting-edge DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence technologies to generate the highest quality and most comprehensive genomic data. The resulting reference genome will pave the way towards personalized and preventive healthcare delivery for UAE citizens.
Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer of G42 Healthcare, said: “G42 Healthcare is committed to playing a key role in the provision of groundbreaking solutions for medical science, and to developing home-grown capabilities in the UAE that attract and provide opportunities for the smartest minds to achieve scientific and medical advancements. We envision a safe future for human life, and seek solutions that will benefit members of our society for generations to come. With the official launch of our Omics Centre of Excellence we mark the next stage in our journey towards improving healthcare delivery through advanced research and cutting-edge technologies.”
Since its inception in September 2020, the Omics Centre of Excellence has already been leveraged by G42 Healthcare to achieve several significant successes. These include viral genome sequencing study on a large sample size, providing better insights into virus mutations during the second COVID-19 wave in the UAE. The centre has also analyzed more than 1,000 human genomes on NGS and TGS platforms to create a standard Emirati reference genome.
G42 Healthcare plans to employ the new facility across a series of initiatives and workstreams, that will support the UAE’s vision for the future – such as introducing precision medicine and working closely with the pharma industry, advancing research on genomics and proteomics, promoting sustainable agriculture, food security, and forensics work.
The Omics Centre of Excellence is enabled by G42 Healthcare’s Biobank, which is the biggest national biorepository and functions as an integrated foundation of the facility. The Omics Centre will be critical in G42 Healthcare’s ongoing efforts to develop a world-class, sustainable healthcare sector in the UAE and abroad. The company has been a key player in the race to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing the technology to generate relevant and insightful data in a study that identified the genomic source of the virus.
G42 Healthcare is keen to pursue partnerships and collaborations that will enable healthier communities.