Under the patronage of the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, and organized by the Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), the 9th Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference (PAHGC) opened today. The conference is being held virtually from the 8th to the 9th of December, 2021, with more than 500 delegates from all over the world in attendance.
The focus of the 9th edition of this conference is on the challenges and opportunities for genomics in the Arab World. The main topics to be discussed in the conference include big data genomics in Arabs, new insights into rare disease, genomics and society, and the genomics of infection and immunity.
In his opening speech Dr. Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, Chairperson of the conference and Director of CAGS, said, “It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 9th Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference. This is the first conference we hold after the passing of our patron, the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was not only a true visionary but a man of great accomplishments, who left an eternal mark not only on Dubai and the UAE, but on the whole world.
“Through his various philanthropic endeavors, the late Sheikh Hamdan’s contributions to the fields of humanitarian aid, education, environment, and medicine are enormous. The latter was especially dear to his heart, and he was always keen on advancing healthcare systems in the UAE and across the world. The establishment of the prestigious Sheikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences was one of his efforts to this end. The Award has, over the last two decades, played a major role in recognizing the tremendous achievements of scientists and researchers in the field of scientific medicine, at the international, regional and local levels, as well as in encouraging and supporting young researchers”, he added
He went on to explain the selection of the theme of the conference in keeping with the vision of the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was always keen on addressing the many challenges faced in healthcare and who always encouraged us to build upon the opportunities in this realm.
“One of the major objectives of this conference is to bring together diverse expertise and resources pertaining to the field of medical genetics in the Arab World, thereby facilitating multidisciplinary research. Especially keeping in mind the theme of this year’s conference, we have tried our best to maximize participation from across the length and breadth of the Arab World. The 9th PAHGC is therefore, a virtual, free to access conference”, he added.
He also pointed out that the four conference modules were selected based on their relevance to the current status of human genetics and genomics, especially in the region. He explained that in selecting the speakers, the scientific committee has tried to represent as many Arab countries as possible, in order to showcase the research being done across the Arab nation.
At the end of his speech Dr. Mahmoud thanked everyone who was involved in the conference, especially the Sheikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences, hoping for it to remain a pioneering intellectual and scientific legacy for the sake of advancing scientific research and the health sector in all parts of the world.
He also thanked the sponsors and supporters of the conference and the members of CAGS and the conference committees, for their continuous guidance for the conference series and the center.
The activities of the first day of the conference included 9 lectures given by a group of distinguished lecturers Dr. Khaled Fakhro gave a lecture entitled “Towards Genomic Medicine at Scale for Arab Populations”, while Dr. Habiba Al-Safar gave a lecture entitled “A Population-Specific Major Allele Reference Genome from the United Arab Emirates Population”. Dr. Brian Meyer discussed the topic of “From Population Genomics to Precision Medicine”, and Dr. Rana Dajani gave a lecture entitled “Who are we Really?”. Dr. David Bentley, in his sponsored talk, discussed the topic of “Genomes for Genetic Disease Diagnosis”. In the afternoon session on rare disorders, Dr. Valerie Delague discussed the topic of “From gene discovery to treatment: the story of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4H”, while Dr. Maryam Al-Shehhi gave a lecture entitled “Whole Exome Sequencing Paving the Way for Rare Diseases Diagnosis in Arab Countries”. Later, Dr. Hela Azaeiz discussed the topic of “Unraveling the Genetic Complexities of Hearing Loss to Empower Precision Medicine” and Dr. Noura Al Dhaheri gave a lecture entitled” Rare Diseases: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Journey of Undiagnosed Patients.”
It worth mention that Conference hosted a forum run by the newly formed Arab Association of Genetic Counselors. The forum was open to all registered delegates and discussed issues relevant to genetic counseling in the community.