Dr. Sabina Semiz
Dr. sabina semiz Professor Biological Sciences

Contact Information
sabina.semiz@ku.ac.ae +971 2 312 4316


Prof. Dr. Sabina Semiz is a founding professor at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Khalifa University, where she also served as the strand leader in Biomedical Sciences and the course director in the Endocrine System. Before joining the Khalifa University, she was appointed as the professor at the International University of Sarajevo, where she also worked as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences. In 2015 Dr. Semiz was appointed as the Head of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and since 2018 she is also the member of Cambridge Working Group for Bioethics Education.

Prof. Semiz completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and her postdoctoral work at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA, where she investigated the mechanisms of insulin-mediated glucose uptake and development of insulin resistance and diabetes. Following this, Dr. Semiz worked as a principal investigator at the Cytrx Corporation and in Epic Therapeutics, Inc., Baxter Healthcare Corporation, MA, USA, where she was developing novel drugs to treat type 2 diabetes. Since 2007 she worked at the University of Sarajevo and International University of Sarajevo, and established active collaboration with the Lund University in Sweden and Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Prof. Semiz serves as an expert in the Evaluation panel for the Horizon 2020 Programme and COST Action for Medical and Health Sciences.

Within the last 15 years, Professor Semiz is leading research projects in precision medicine in type 2 diabetes as well as in bioethical aspects of precision medicine, genetic testing, and gene editing. These research studies are contributing to the current efforts to prevent and optimize management of Type 2 diabetes. Since joining the Khalifa University, she has established active collaborations in the area of Precision medicine in type 2 diabetes in the UAE with the University of South Florida, USA, Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, as well as with the number of healthcare institutions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

  • PhD, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

  • Endocrine System (MDBS706)
  • MoleculesGenes and Cells (MDBS601)
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics (MDBS606)
  • Molecular Cell Biology (BMED341)
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioethics

Research Interests
  • Precision Medicine in Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Genetics, Metabolomics, and Pharmacogenomics of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Bioethics in Genomics, Pharmacogenomics, and Genetic Counseling
  • Biotehics and Artificial Inteligence
  • Medical Education in Precision Medicine

Research Projects

“Precision Medicine in Diagnosis and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in the United Arab Emirates”

Khalifa University of Science and Technology FSU Grant, 2020-2022.

This project is focused on the use of precision medicine in Type 2 diabetes (T2D), including precise T2D diagnosis and precise treatment in the UAE population. Diabetes represents one of the major public health issues affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide, with an increasing prevalence of about 16 percent in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the onset of the disease is 10-15 years earlier than the global average. Up to one-third of all deaths in adult UAE nationals with T2D could be attributed to non-optimal glucose levels control. Given this high incidence of T2D, consanguineous marriages, lifestyle influence, and total healthcare costs allocated to diabetes management in the Middle East population that are being among the highest in the world, it is pertinent to understand better genetic, lifestyle, and other factors associated with T2D risk, traits, and response to treatment, which represent the major objectives of this research project.




“Biomarkers of Diabetes-associated Neurodegenerative Disease”

Khalifa University Emerging Science & Innovation Grant (ESIG) 2023.

Although increasing evidence indicates a strong link between Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and neurodegenerative diseases (ND) development, the mechanisms underlying ND progression in T2D are not fully understood. An impaired glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, stimulation of inflammatory and oxidative processes, in combination with accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau proteins seem to exacerbate the neurodegenerative process. It was reported that proinflammatory factors released by reactive microglia, including TNF-α and specific interleukins (IL), have been robustly associated with neurodegeneration. Our goal in this project is to quantitate the plasma levels of biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases, including Aβ40, Aβ42, p-tau181, tau, NfL, and inflammation (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8) in patients with prediabetes and T2D. This study is a part of our ongoing research collaboration with 10-15 clinicians from several healthcare institutions across the UAE, where we analyze association of genetic, lifestyle and other factors with T2D risk, traits and treatment outcomes.

“The Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Diabetic Retinopathy on patients in Abu Dhabi: A Cross-Sectional Study”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Khalifa University collaborative research project, 2023.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the high prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D), which if not managed properly, could lead to the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and other T2D-associated microvascular complications. The condition can cause permanent blindness, if not diagnosed and treated promptly. The significant lifestyle modifications, preferably early in the disease progression, are recommended as the first line management of T2D. That includes the substantial weight loss achieved following a low calorie diet or after bariatric surgery (BS), which appears to be an effective tool in managing obesity and T2D. A positive effects of bariatric surgery on diabetic retinopathy were reported in the literature, as T2D patients who have undergone BS were found to have improved their DR grade. This study, based to our knowledge, represents one of the first studies in the UAE that investigates the effects of BS on DR grade and other anthropometric and biochemical parameters in T2D patients who underwent bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. The results of this research would potentially lead to better understanding of the evolution of DR upon bariatric surgery and would be relevant to the current global efforts to optimally manage T2D and prevent progression of its microvascular complications, including diabetic retinopathy.

Research Staff and Graduate Students:

Kenana Hatab MD student
Abdulhamid Mustafa Abdi MD Student
Hamda Memon MD student
Fatima Abdulla MD Student
Saif Hashem Alnuaimi MD Student

Welcome to the graduate students to join our research projects!