Several researchers and scientists from across the globe gathered today to attend the 8th Pan Arab Human Genetics conference held at Al Bustan, Rotana. The conference, organized by the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) under the aegis of the Sheikh Hamdan Award, is a biennial event aimed at bringing together diverse expertise and resources in the field of medical genetics in the Arab World. The theme for this year is ‘Clinical Genomics’ and the scientific program focuses on Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Metabolic Disorders, Dysmorphology, and Population Genomics and Human Disease.
In his speech, Dr. Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, CAGS Director and chairman of the scientific committee of the conference, said: “Over the years, not only has this conference acted as a meeting point for regional and international geneticists to have a constructive dialogue and share their views, but has also provided inspiration to young regional researchers to specialize in this field of science. Closest to my heart, this conference has also been the start of many fruitful research collaborations.”
Dr. Mahmoud also spoke about the pre-conference workshop that took place on the 17th and 18th of January at Mohammed bin Rashid University. This workshop, organized by the European School of Genetic Medicine, was aimed at providing delegates with case-based learning for providing practical skills for exome and SNP data analysis.
He also conveyed his sincere thanks and gratitude to H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, the UAE Minister of Finance and the Patron of the Award for his continuous support to the center`s activites.
On its first day, the event included four plenary lectures by prominent researchers. Dr. Pierre Zalloua of the Lebanese American University spoke on 'Populations and Diabetes: Gene-Environment Interaction’ while Dr. Ayesha Motala from the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine talked about ‘The Burden of Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome in Africa’. Dr. Clara Vankarnebeek of the Radboud University Medical Centres discussed ‘Neurometabolic Disease Discoveries: Translating Big Data into Better Outcomes’ and Dr. Majid AlFadhel from the King Abdullah International Medical Research Centre addressed the opportunities and challenges of ‘Next Generation Sequencing in the Era of Inborn Errors of Metabolism’. The program also included several oral and poster presentations, forum discussions, exhibitions by major biotechnology companies such as Prevention Genetics, INVITAE and CeGaT and opportunities to network with professionals working in the field of medical genetics. The day’s events ended with a public lecture by Prof. Rana Dajani, an expert on the genetics of Circassian and Chechen populations in Jordan and listed as one of ‘The World’s 100 Most Influential Arab Women’. Prof. Dajani spoke passionately on women and science, education and pedagogy, and social entrepreneurship.
Monday’s session will further focus on lectures by eminent researchers such as Prof. Alain Verloes on the ‘Genetics of Intellectual Disability’ and Prof. Sally Ann-Lynch, who will speak on adopting a ‘Systematic Approach in an NGS era’.
Dr. Mahmoud further noted that CAGS is deeply grateful to the dedicated scientists serving as members of the organizing and scientific Committees of the conference, who had worked hard to bring the conference to fruition and gave a special thanks to the members of the Arab Council, Executive Board, and Advisory Committee of CAGS, for their continuous guidance.
It is worth noting that 400 participants from various international institutions participated in the event.