CENTRE FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY

Vision, Mission and Core Values

To be a national and international leader in understanding the relationship between genetic and environmental factors that predispose populations of the Middle East, and more specifically the Emirati people, to disease.

To improve our knowledge about diseases to enable clinicians to promote, protect and maintain the well-being of our families in our community.

1. Research Excellence and Innovation: The center aims to fully utilize its state-of-the-art resources and expertise to pursue high quality research towards a healthier nation, region and world.
2. Scientific Integrity: The center aims to pursue all research activity whilst complying with the highest ethical standards.
3. Communication: The center aims to share all information and knowledge uncovered through its research activities towards the betterment of the health of human kind.
4. Diversity: The center embraces diversity as it is through the comparative analysis of different ethnic groups, races, genders, clinical subsets and demographic categories that new information and knowledge is uncovered.

Theme Leaders

Dr. Habiba Alsafar

Director & Theme Leader for Genomics

Dr. Andreas Henshcel

Theme Leader for Bioinformatics

Dr. Dietrich Lorke

Theme Leader for Functional Biology

Faculty

Dr. Samuel Feng

Applied Mathematics & Science Department

Dr Sun Mung Lee

Biomedical Engineering Department

Dr Suryani Lukman

Chemistry Department

Dr. Selena Richards

Chemistry Department

Dr. Dymitr Ruta

Etisalat BT Innovation Center

Dr. Abdulrahim Sajini

Biomedical EngineeringDepartment

Dr. David Sheehan

Collage of Art and Science

Dr. Kamal Salid Taha

Electrical and Computer EngineeringDepartment

Dr. Syed Salman Ashraf

Chemistry Department

Researchers

Dr. Wael Mohammed Osman

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Gihan Daw Elbait

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Sarah Chehadeh

Lab Engineer

Mr. Hussain Kannout

Research associate

Ms. Fathimathus Waasia

Research associate

Ms Zahrah Baalfaqih

Research Assistant

Ms Suna Nazar

Lab Assistant

Students

Halima Al Naqbi

PhD Candidate

Aamer Alshehhi

PhD Candidate

Sarah Azaam

PhD Candidate

Mira Mousa

PhD Candidate

Tamador Elboshra

PhD Candidate

Advisory Board Members

Dr. Braulio Peramo

Medical Director, Al Ain Fertility Center, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Themes

THEME 1: The discovery of genetic markers that are relevant for diagnosis of disease and screening for predispositions in the Arabian population.

THEME 2: The development of improved analysis methodology and pipelines for the identification of variants that cause disease.

The development of predictive algorithms to summarize significant variants for clinical applications in Precision Medicine.

THEME 3: The develop of new therapeutic modalities or the use of existing pharmaceuticals in appropriate doses (pharmacogenomics). The identification of functionally relevant histocompatibility matching to improve access of patients to hematopoietic cell/bone marrow and organ donors.

The Khalifa University Center of Excellence in Biotechnology (BTC) was established on 2 June 2015 to develop the university’s capabilities in training and research to respond to three of the six priority areas under the four pillars of the UAE 2021 vision. Without a local effort in genome research, the targets set and the vision to develop a knowledge economy in bioscience and competencies in laboratory diagnostic practice is highly problematic. Since its foundation, BTC has developed competencies in genomics (Theme 1) and bioinformatics (Theme 2) in collaboration with a plethora of external stakeholders.

In 2018, as the center took possession of a customized laboratory to provide a base to accelerate the process of discovery, its mandate evolved to improve the body of information on genetic predisposition to diseases that are common to the UAE population. In these new premises, the center intends to add capabilities in functional biology (Theme 3), the third cog in the repertoire that is molecular biology. This strategic addition coincides with the consummation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Al Ain Fertility Center. It will provide the capability to study the functional relevance of novel genetic associations that are identified. The addition will further expand BTC’s current network of local, regional and international collaborators.

External Collaborators
  • Abu Dhabi Police General Head Quarters, Abu Dhabi
  • Al Ain Fertility Center, Al Ain
  • Dubai Health Authority, Dubai
  •  Mafraq Hospital, Abu Dhabi
  • Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai
  • National Rehabilitation Center, Abu Dhabi
  •  Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  •  Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi
  • Tawam Hospital, Al Ain
  • University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  •  University of Western Australia, Australia
  •  Zayed University, Abu Dhabi
 External Sponsors
  • Aljalila Foundation
  • Sandooq Alwatan



Themes

THEME 1: The discovery of genetic markers that are relevant for diagnosis of disease and screening for predispositions in the Arabian population.

THEME 2: The development of improved analysis methodology and pipelines for the identification of variants that cause disease.

The development of predictive algorithms to summarize significant variants for clinical applications in Precision Medicine.

THEME 3: The develop of new therapeutic modalities or the use of existing pharmaceuticals in appropriate doses (pharmacogenomics). The identification of functionally relevant histocompatibility matching to improve access of patients to hematopoietic cell/bone marrow and organ donors.

The Khalifa University Center of Excellence in Biotechnology (BTC) was established on 2 June 2015 to develop the university’s capabilities in training and research to respond to three of the six priority areas under the four pillars of the UAE 2021 vision. Without a local effort in genome research, the targets set and the vision to develop a knowledge economy in bioscience and competencies in laboratory diagnostic practice is highly problematic. Since its foundation, BTC has developed competencies in genomics (Theme 1) and bioinformatics (Theme 2) in collaboration with a plethora of external stakeholders.

In 2018, as the center took possession of a customized laboratory to provide a base to accelerate the process of discovery, its mandate evolved to improve the body of information on genetic predisposition to diseases that are common to the UAE population. In these new premises, the center intends to add capabilities in functional biology (Theme 3), the third cog in the repertoire that is molecular biology. This strategic addition coincides with the consummation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Al Ain Fertility Center. It will provide the capability to study the functional relevance of novel genetic associations that are identified. The addition will further expand BTC’s current network of local, regional and international collaborators.

External Collaborators
  • Abu Dhabi Police General Head Quarters, Abu Dhabi
  • Al Ain Fertility Center, Al Ain
  • Dubai Health Authority, Dubai
  •  Mafraq Hospital, Abu Dhabi
  • Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai
  • National Rehabilitation Center, Abu Dhabi
  •  Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  •  Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi
  • Tawam Hospital, Al Ain
  • University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  •  University of Western Australia, Australia
  •  Zayed University, Abu Dhabi
 External Sponsors
  • Aljalila Foundation
  • Sandooq Alwatan



Genome (wet) laboratory: This facility is equipped with the equipment for the analysis of human genomes and includes technologies for analysis of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) to perform Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and to undertake whole exome (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Major pieces of Equipment at the Center for Biotechnology.

1. NovaSeq
2. NextSeq
3. 3500 Genetic Analyzer
4. iSeq100
5. iScan
6. ViiA 7 Real-Time PCR System
7. GeneAmp PCR System 9700
8. Fragment Analyzer
9. Qsonica Sonicators
10. Magpurix DNA extraction machine
11. Spectrophotometer

Bioinformatics (dry) laboratory: This facility is equipped with equipment for analysis of whole human genomes. The team has expertise in developing pipelines for genome-wide analysis and population studies.

Genome (wet) laboratory: This facility is equipped with the equipment for the analysis of human genomes and includes technologies for analysis of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) to perform Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and to undertake whole exome (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).

Major pieces of Equipment at the Center for Biotechnology.

1. NovaSeq
2. NextSeq
3. 3500 Genetic Analyzer
4. iSeq100
5. iScan
6. ViiA 7 Real-Time PCR System
7. GeneAmp PCR System 9700
8. Fragment Analyzer
9. Qsonica Sonicators
10. Magpurix DNA extraction machine
11. Spectrophotometer

Bioinformatics (dry) laboratory: This facility is equipped with equipment for analysis of whole human genomes. The team has expertise in developing pipelines for genome-wide analysis and population studies.

1. O'Day E, Hosta-Rigau L, Oyarzun DA, Okano H, de Lorenzo V, von Kameke C, et al. Are We There Yet? How and When Specific Biotechnologies Will Improve Human Health. Biotechnol J. 2019;14(1):e1800195.
2. Kulski JK, Mawart A, Marie K, Tay GK, AlSafar HS. MHC class I polymorphic Alu insertion (POALIN) allele and haplotype frequencies in the Arabs of the United Arab Emirates and other world populations. International Journal of Immunogenetics. 2019;0(0).
3. Kulski JK, AlSafar HS, Mawart A, Henschel A, Tay GK. HLA class I allele lineages and haplotype frequencies in Arabs of the United Arab Emirates. Int J Immunogenet. 2019.
4. Azzam SK, Osman WM, Lee S, Khalaf K, Khandoker AH, Almahmeed W, et al. Genetic Associations With Diabetic Retinopathy and Coronary Artery Disease in Emirati Patients With Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2019;10(283).
5. Alblooshi H, Al Safar H, Fisher HF, Cordell HJ, El Kashef A, Al Ghaferi H, et al. A case-control genome wide association study of substance use disorder (SUD) identifies novel variants on chromosome 7p14.1 in patients from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2019;180(1):68-79.
6. Abdulle A, Inman CK, Saleh A, Noshi M, Galani D, Abdelwareth L, et al. Metabolic Dysfunction in Emirati Subjects in Abu Dhabi: Relationship to Levels of Soluble RAGEs. Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology. 2019:100192.
7. Valles Y, Inman CK, Peters BA, Ali R, Wareth LA, Abdulle A, et al. Types of tobacco consumption and the oral microbiome in the United Arab Emirates Healthy Future (UAEHFS) Pilot Study. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):11327.
8. Safar HA, Chehadeh SEH, Abdel-Wareth L, Haq A, Jelinek HF, ElGhazali G, et al. Vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms among Emirati patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2018;175:119-24.
9. Osman WM, Jelinek HF, Tay GK, Khandoker AH, Khalaf K, Almahmeed W, et al. Clinical and genetic associations of renal function and diabetic kidney disease in the United Arab Emirates: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2018;8(12):e020759.
10. Osman W, Tay GK, Alsafar H. Multiple genetic variations confer risks for obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in arab descendants from UAE. Int J Obes (Lond). 2018;42(7):1345-53.
11. Lee S, Al-Kaabi L, Mawart A, Khandoker A, Alsafar H, Jelinek HF, et al. Ultrasound-mediated drug delivery by gas bubbles generated from a chemical reaction. J Drug Target. 2018;26(2):172-81.
12. Khan SM, El Hajj Chehadeh S, Abdulrahman M, Osman W, Al Safar H. Establishing a genetic link between FTO and VDR gene polymorphisms and obesity in the Emirati population. BMC medical genetics. 2018;19(1):11-.
13. de Lorenzo V, Prather KLJ, Chen GQ, O'Day E, von Kameke C, Oyarzún DA, et al. The power of synthetic biology for bioproduction, remediation and pollution control: The UN's Sustainable Development Goals will inevitably require the application of molecular biology and biotechnology on a global scale. EMBO Reports. 2018;19(4).
14. Azzam SK, Jang H, Choi MC, Alsafar H, Lukman S, Lee S. Inhibition of Human Amylin Aggregation and Cellular Toxicity by Lipoic Acid and Ascorbic Acid. Mol Pharm. 2018;15(6):2098-106.
15. Alblooshi H, Hulse G, Osman W, El Kashef A, Shawky M, Al Ghaferi H, et al. The frequency of DRD2 rs1076560 and OPRM1 rs1799971 in substance use disorder patients from the United Arab Emirates. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2018;17:22.
16. Al-Houqani M, Leinberger-Jabari A, Al Naeemi A, Al Junaibi A, Al Zaabi E, Oumeziane N, et al. Patterns of tobacco use in the United Arab Emirates Healthy Future (UAEHFS) pilot study. PLoS One. 2018;13(5):e0198119.
17. Al-Ali M, Osman W, Tay GK, AlSafar HS. A 1000 Arab genome project to study the Emirati population. J Hum Genet. 2018;63(4):533-6.
18. Al Safar H TG. Making medicine personal in the Middle East Nature Middle East. 2018.
19. Abdulle A, Alnaeemi A, Aljunaibi A, Al Ali A, Al Saedi K, Al Zaabi E, et al. The UAE healthy future study: a pilot for a prospective cohort study of 20,000 United Arab Emirates nationals. BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):101.
20. Khandoker AH, Al-Angari HM, Khalaf K, Lee S, Almahmeed W, Al Safar HS, et al. Association of Diabetes Related Complications with Heart Rate Variability among a Diabetic Population in the UAE. PLOS ONE. 2017;12(1):e0168584.
21. Khalaf K, Al-Angari HM, Khandoker AH, Lee S, Almahmeed W, Al Safar HS, et al. Gait alterations in the UAE population with and without diabetic complications using both traditional and entropy measures. Gait & Posture. 2017;58:72-7.
22. Jones RJ, Tayyare WA, Tay GK, Alsafar H, Goodwin WH. Population data for 21 autosomal short tandem repeat markers in the Arabic population of the United Arab Emirates. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2017;28:e41-e2.
23. Jones RJ, Tay GK, Mawart A, Alsafar H. Y-Chromosome haplotypes reveal relationships between populations of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and South Asia. Ann Hum Biol. 2017;44(8):738-46.
24. Jelinek HF, Osman WM, Khandoker AH, Khalaf K, Lee S, Almahmeed W, et al. Clinical profiles, comorbidities and complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus in patients from United Arab Emirates. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2017;5(1):e000427.
25. Inman CK, Aljunaibi A, Koh H, Abdulle A, Ali R, Alnaeemi A, et al. The AGE-RAGE axis in an Arab population: The United Arab Emirates Healthy Futures (UAEHFS) pilot study. J Clin Transl Endocrinol. 2017;10:1-8.
26. Anouti FA, Chehadeh SEH, Osman E, ElGhazali G, Safar HA. Investigating the Association of Vitamin D Metabolism Genes CYP2R1, CYP24A1 and CYP27B1 with Vitamin D Status in Young Adult Emiratis. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2017;5(1):15-21.
27. Al-Angari HM, Khandoker AH, Lee S, Almahmeed W, Al Safar HS, Jelinek HF, et al. Novel dynamic peak and distribution plantar pressure measures on diabetic patients during walking. Gait & Posture. 2017;51:261-7.
28. Rai MCE, Tortorici C, Al-Muhairi H, Safar HA, Werghi N, editors. Landmarks detection on 3D face scans using local histogram descriptors. Proceedings of the 18th Mediterranean Electrotechnical Conference: Intelligent and Efficient Technologies and Services for the Citizen, MELECON 2016; 2016.
29. El Hajj Chehadeh SW, Jelinek HF, Al Mahmeed WA, Tay GK, Odama UO, Elghazali GEB, et al. Relationship between MTHFR C677T and A1298C gene polymorphisms and complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus in an Emirati population. Meta Gene. 2016;9:70-5.
30. Alblooshi H, Hulse GK, El Kashef A, Al Hashmi H, Shawky M, Al Ghaferi H, et al. The pattern of substance use disorder in the United Arab Emirates in 2015: results of a National Rehabilitation Centre cohort study. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2016;11(1):19.
31. Al-Safar H, Kamal W, Hassoun A, Almahmeed W, Rais N. Combined association analysis of interleukin 1-receptor antagonist (IL-1RN) variable number of tandem repeat (VNTR) and Haptoglobin 1/2 polymorphisms with type 2 diabetes mellitus risk. Journal of diabetes and metabolic disorders. 2016;15:10-.
32. Abdrabou W, Witzel, II, Paduch A, Tay G, Alsafar H. Identification of a novel HLA-A allele, HLA-A*01:195, in a UAE national. Hum Immunol. 2016;77(7):605-8.
33. Witzel, II, Jelinek HF, Khalaf K, Lee S, Khandoker AH, Alsafar H. Identifying Common Genetic Risk Factors of Diabetic Neuropathies. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2015;6:88.
34. Rai MCEL, Werghi N, Muhairi HA, Alsafar H, editors. Using facial images for the diagnosis of genetic syndromes: A survey. 2015 International Conference on Communications, Signal Processing, and Their Applications, ICCSPA 2015; 2015.
35. Osman E, Al Anouti F, El ghazali G, Haq A, Mirgani R, Al Safar H. Frequency of rs731236 (Taql), rs2228570 (Fok1) of Vitamin-D Receptor (VDR) gene in Emirati healthy population. Meta Gene. 2015;6:49-52.
36. Lukman S, Al Safar H, Lee SM, Sim K. Harnessing Structural Data of Insulin and Insulin Receptor for Therapeutic Designs2015.
37. El Rai MC, Werghi N, Tortorici C, Al-Muhairi H, Al Safar H, editors. Mesh LBP features for 3D constrained local model. 2015 International Conference on Information and Communication Technology Research, ICTRC 2015; 2015.
38. Chendeb M, Tortorici C, Almuhairi H, Alsafar H, Linguraru M, Werghi N, editors. Landmark detection from 3D mesh facial models for image-based analysis of dysmorphology. Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS; 2015.
39. Alsafar H, Hassoun A, Almazrouei S, Kamal W, Almaini M, Odama U, et al. Association of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Insertion-Deletion Polymorphism with Hypertension in Emiratis with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Interaction with Obesity Status. Dis Markers. 2015;2015:536041.
40. Ali Alhmoudi O, Jones RJ, Tay GK, Alsafar H, Hadi S. Population genetics data for 21 autosomal STR loci for United Arab Emirates (UAE) population using next generation multiplex STR kit. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015;19:190-1.
41. Al-Safar H, Hassoun A, Almazrouei S, Kamal W, Afandi B, Rais N. Association of the genetic polymorphisms in transcription factor 7-like 2 and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors- γ 2 with type 2 diabetes mellitus and its interaction with obesity status in Emirati population. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2015;2015.

General enquiries and application for summer internship opportunities.
A. For general enquiries, please contact Habiba.alsafar@ku.ac.ae
B. For internship, please contact Dr. Sarah Chehadeh on Sarah.chehadeh@ku.ac.ae.

General enquiries and application for summer internship opportunities.
A. For general enquiries, please contact Habiba.alsafar@ku.ac.ae
B. For internship, please contact Dr. Sarah Chehadeh on Sarah.chehadeh@ku.ac.ae.