Dubai Police officer, a PhD student at Cambridge University, participates in Human Genome Diversity Project - GulfToday

Dubai Police officer, a PhD student at Cambridge University, participates in Human Genome Diversity Project


Lt. Col. Dr Mansour Al Balushi (left), Brigadier Dr Saleh Abdullah Murad (centre) and Major Mohamed Ali Al Marri.

An officer from Dubai Police has joined the international efforts to understand human genetic diversity and published the most comprehensive atlas of genetic variation to date by analysing a globally diverse set of populations as part of the renowned Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP).

Major Mohamed Ali Al Marri, who is currently a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, and his fellow researchers, in cooperation with Cambridge and Harvard Universities, have published two papers on the Human Genome Diversity Project which are featured in two high-impact scholarly journals: Science and Cell.


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Maj. Al Marri is also heading a new project to study Arab Genome Diversity as part of his PhD. They identified a large number of variants that are specific to the region and highlight the missing diversity of Arab samples in genome projects. This new project will complement the HGDP, which lacks samples from the Arabian Peninsula, ensuring that the region is not excluded in the field of personalised medicine which has the potential to exacerbate healthcare disparities.

Maj. Al Marri, who completed his studies under the Dubai Police scholarship programme, expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the force for giving him and his colleagues a chance to become students of the most prestigious universities in the world.


"Thanks to the continued support of Dubai Police, I have been able to take part and lead the analysis of the Human Genome Diversity Project, a project in which numerous scientists over the last 30 years were able to collect DNA samples from diverse human populations. This collaborative effort has led to the establishment of an open access genetic resource from 54 populations, but only recently through improvements in technology and analysis methods were we able to study such a large diverse set of whole-genomes accurately," Maj. Al Marri added.

Arab Genome Project

"In the two papers we published, we present the most detailed analysis of human genetic diversity by analysing a high-coverage dataset of almost 1,000 samples from 54 global populations. We found millions of previously unidentified variants, some of which are private to one region, and in some cases private to an individual population. There is currently a huge bias in the field of human genomics, with most studies performed in populations of European descent. Our studies now catalogue genetic variants on a global scale, allowing their inclusion in future medical studies." he continued.

“The experience I gained in from the HGDP study, from the analysis of the data to writing the manuscript, and the lack of Arabian samples in this project, inspired me to start the Arab Genome Project. The HGDP was started in the 1990s by a group of scientists who wanted to understand global genetic variation, but they were unable to collect samples from Arabia." Maj. Al Marri added.

"The results of both these projects will enable us to create an encyclopaedia of human genetic variation that will allow us to create better tests for human identification in the field of forensics. It will also advance the long-term goal of personalised medicine, where tailored treatments for each patient is based on their genetic background, improving outcomes and prognosis." he added.


Brigadier Dr Saleh Abdullah Murad, director of the General Department of Human Resources at Dubai Police, said that Maj. Al Marri's success is a representation of the scientific capabilities of Dubai Police cadres. "It also shows the Force's keenness to qualify its employees and armed them with knowledge obtained from most prestigious universities across the world. We encourage them to engage in research studies in order to keep abreast of the latest scientific discoveries in all fields and employ them efficiently in their works," Brig. Murad added.

"In response to the government Emiratisation initiative, the Dubai Police sponsor Emirati talents in their journey as university and college students before recruiting them as employees with consistent follow-up of their affairs by the Scholarship and Recruitment Department at the General Department of Human Resources at Dubai Police, which launches programmes and initiatives throughout the year to prepare them for their working lives," Brig. Murad continued.

Lt. Col. Dr Mansour Al Balushi, director of the Scholarship and Recruitment Department, said that there are currently 165 full-time students who studied under Dubai Police scholarships; 45 of them are PhD candidates, 28 MA students and 92 BAs. We have sponsored around 1,034 students in their studies so far. These numbers reflect Dubai Police's keenness to incubate highly-educated Emirati cadres," he added.

"The Scholarship and Recruitment Department provides its scholarship students with EFAAD, a smart service, to attend to their needs around the clock. It also formed Dubai Police Scholars Council to invest in their abilities to support them and create an innovative and creative environment that allows them to foresee the future of security in Dubai," Lt. Col. Al Balushi added.

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