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Khalifa University of Science and Technology and G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42, today announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in research and academic areas related to the healthcare sector and artificial intelligence.
The MoU was signed by Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University, and Mr. Ashish Koshy, CEO, G42 Healthcare, at a virtual ceremony in Abu Dhabi.
According to the MoU, both partners will cooperate on research and the publication of research outcomes by faculty, scientists and researchers, as well as on academic programs. The two will also implement a student exchange program.
Dr. Al Hammadi said: “Khalifa University is delighted to enter into this research collaboration MoU with G42 Healthcare and advance the healthcare vision of the UAE. Our academic and research capabilities are acknowledged widely, as our collaborations expand into various areas including smart healthcare, genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, diagnostic engineering, and cyber-physical systems, as well as advanced technology. We believe the synergy resulting from our joint activities, especially through our dedicated research centers, will inspire innovation that will benefit the wider community.”
Mr. Ashish Koshy said: “We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Khalifa University, one of the leading academic institutions in the country, on collaborative research, publications, joint academic programs and student exchange programs. During this pandemic, we have all understood and witnessed how strategic collaboration between entities is critical for future proofing the health of our nations.”
Both partners agree that there are multiple projects they can collaborate on, to support the UAE’s vision for the future, especially in introducing precision medicine and working closely with the pharma industry and advancing research on genomics and proteomics.
More recently, G42 Healthcare and the Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology conducted a SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing study that has identified the genomic source of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study will help determine the spread and evolution patterns of the virus ever since the disease was first recorded in the UAE, while providing additional insights for sustainable screening of the SARS-CoV-2 dynamics and will help the country better prepare for future outbreaks. The entire study is expected to be published soon.
Dr. Habiba Al Safar, Director, Center for Biotechnology, and Associate Professor, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Khalifa University, has already been investigating the nuances of the Emirati genome, following a research published last year describing the sequence of the first complete Emirati genome. She and other researchers have since been investigating the specific genome variants that may point to risk factors for certain diseases and seeking to understand how these genetic variations can help develop more personalized treatment plans.
Dr. Walid Zaher, Chief Research Officer, G42 Healthcare has been leading the viral genome sequencing and Emirati Genome Program, among other projects and commented, “Our collaboration spans an array of research projects that draw upon combined expertise in technology and innovation. The longitudinal viral genome sequencing study assesses the potential emergence of a more virulent subtype and its potential effect on the country’s infection control strategies and will in turn translate into improvements in diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity. Similarly, our Omics Centre of Excellence has analyzed more than 1,000 human genomes on NGS and TGS platforms to create a standard Emirati reference genome which sets the precursor for a wider scale roll out of the program”.
At present, some of the Khalifa University research centers involved in healthcare-related research include the Center for Biotechnology (BTC), Healthcare Engineering Innovation Center (HEIC), Center for Cyber-Physical Systems (C2PS), and the Khalifa University – Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KU-KAIST) Joint Research Center.