NYUAD, in collaboration with Tamkeen, celebrated the completion of the UAE Healthy Future Study’s (UAEHFS) first phase of recruiting nearly 15,000 participants in the UAE’s first-ever prospective cohort study of its kind that seeks to determine how the health of UAE nationals are affected by their lifestyle, environment, and genes, specifically looking at risk factors for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The UAEHFS has been recruiting participants since 2016 and received approval from the Abu Dhabi Department of Health, Dubai Health Authority, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention to conduct genetic analyses of UAEHFS participants and link them to medical records.
This collaborative study has paved the way for an unprecedented level of cooperation between healthcare organizations, and academic institutions in the UAE. These pioneering efforts have led to a raft of new measurable achievements, including 47 articles in peer-reviewed international journals over the past seven years. The study has further contributed to significant advances to the national capacity in public health and thus made significant contributions in establishing regulations and research in this area – including contributions to the COVID-19 pandemic and the establishment of Emirati Genome Program, which serves as a flagship national initiative.
The event on Monday, November 6 was attended by dignitaries including HE Omniyat Al Hajri, ADPHC Executive Director of the Community Health Sector, and Major General Buti Al Shamsi from Abu Dhabi Police, and John Tate, CEO of Tamkeen, to mark the conclusion of Phase One and the inauguration of Phase Two.
Phase Two of the study aims to carry out a robust analysis of the total baseline data to identify additional physiological, genetic, and microbiome biomarkers and risk factors for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and relevant non-communicable disorders. Recall and collect data from 5,000 participants who joined the study from 2014-2018, and collect more non-invasive clinical phenotype data including brain and abdominal imaging (MRI), echocardiography (ECG), stress test, 24 hours glucose, blood pressure, and physical activity monitoring.
Senior Vice Provost of Research and Managing Director of the NYUAD Research Institute Sehamuddin Galadari added: “We are proud to celebrate the completion of Phase One of the study, which focused on collaboration, recruitment, and capacity building. This has seen us help establish NYUAD as a center of excellence for population health research in the region, while its innovation and impact are being recognized nationally and internationally. We take this opportunity to recognize the faculty, physicians, the staff, and our consortium partners who have made exceptional contributions to the success of the UAEHFS. And we acknowledge our talented team of young scientists, most of whom are Emiratis, who have not only made substantial contributions to the study but also managed to obtain graduate degrees using data from the UAEHFS. This demonstrates the value of national capacity building in public health and I am glad that the NYUAD Research Institute is supporting this.”
Center Director and Principal Investigator of the UAEHFS and leading international clinical epidemiologist Professor Raghib Ali OBE, was joined at the event by Senior Vice Provost of Research Sehamuddin Galadari and Co-Director of Public Health Research Center Youssef Idaghdour in sharing key insights and highlighting achievements from Phase One of the study. Westermann and Tate outlined the involvement of NYUAD and Tamkeen in the project and thanked the study’s partners. Youssef Idaghdour delivered a presentation titled Genetics of Complex Diseases in the UAE.
Organized and funded by NYUAD, in association with its Abu Dhabi partner, Tamkeen, UAEHFS is being conducted in collaboration with: the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), SEHA – The Abu Dhabi Health Services company (including Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Al Ain Regional Blood Bank and the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank), Zayed Military Hospital, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates University, Zayed University, Khalifa University, EBTIC, Higher Colleges of Technology, Healthpoint, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Capital Health Screening Center, Oasis Hospital, Latifa Hospital, and NYU Langone School of Medicine Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police, Dubai Blood Donation Center, Imperial College London Diabetes Center, G42 Healthcare, and Viatris.