An officer from Dubai Police to study the Arab genome diversity

The police are not only fighting crimes: An officer from Dubai proves that they can lead scientific breakthroughs, too. Major Mohamed Ali Al Marri of the Dubai Police is heading a new project to study the Arab genome diversity.

Maj Al Marri, currently a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, has joined international efforts to understand the countless variations in people’s genes. He and his fellow researchers have already published two papers on the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), which were featured in two scientific journals.

The HGDP has been studied by numerous scientists over the last 30 years – but, the thing is, this grand genome research didn’t have samples from Arabia. “There is currently a huge bias in the field of human genomics, with most studies performed in populations of European descent,” said Al Marri.

Determined to bridge this gap, he and his team worked hard to take the study to a higher level. “In the two papers we published, we present the most detailed analysis of human genetic diversity by looking into a high-coverage dataset of almost 1,000 samples from 54 global populations,” he said.

During the process, they found “millions of previously unidentified gene variants”. Some were exclusive to one region, while others were detected in an individual population, he added.