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UAE Diabetes and Heart Diseases (DHD) Research Group

Building M-32 Office no DS 16, University of Sharjah, PO Box: 27272, Sharjah, UAE

Title Overview & Subject Areas:
The main focus of the group will be on diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and their risk factors. We are interested in preventing and modifying the risk factors including obesity and physical inactivity to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and delaying the onset of complications of diabetes by early and appropriate diabetes interventions.

The group brings together a multidisciplinary team of independent scientists as well as professionals from Rashid Diabetes and Research Centre, College of Medicine and Department of Finance/ College of Business Administration as well Ministry of Health and others.

The research group will be involved in several aspects of diabetes research. Diabetes mellitus is a major health problem in UAE with high prevalence due to obesity and possibly ethnic preponderance. Epidemiological, Molecular and genetic aspects of the disease will be the cornerstone of the research projects of this group in order to develop a clearer picture of the disease in its local context. 

Complications of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus are numerous. This research group will investigate the potential association between major micro- and macro-vascular complications of diabetes and a number of gene polymorphisms (SNPs). The aim is to identify high risk patients who need special care and closer monitoring and follow-up.

Potential relationship of diabetes mellitus to other cardiovascular risk factors will be explored in the UAE population. One of the main goals of this research group is to identify important factors that affect patients' acceptability and compliance to lifestyle modifications and therapeutic interventions. This should be reflected on the elements of patient education that should be highlighted for diabetic patients to achieve the best quality of health care and control of the disease.
Primary Investigator & Research Team:
Primary investigator:
Nabil Sulaiman Professor
College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine and Behavioral Sciences,
University of Sharjah
Telephone, Fax, E-Mail 06- 5057206, fax 06 5585879, email

Research Team :
Dr. Maha Mohamed Saber Ayad

Assistant Professor

College, Department and Organization College of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Sharjah
Telephone 065057219 /0561405022, Fax 06 5585879, E-Mail

Dr. Salah Abusnana Assistant


college, Department and Organization Consultant endocrinologist and medical director at Rashid Center for Diabetes and research, Ministry of Health
College of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Sharjah
Telephone06-5058555/ 05676.3782, Fax065058445, E-Mail

Ms. Amal Hussain
College of Medicine, Department of family and community and behavioral sciences 
University of Sharjah
Telephone 065057226, Fax 065585879, E-Mail

Dr. Ammira Sarah Akil

Assistant Professor 
College, Department and Organization: School of Women's and Children's Health, Faculty of medicine, University of New South Wales & Islets Biology Research Group, NHMRC Clinical Trail Centre CTC, University of Sydney, Sydney AUSTRALIA.

Current Projects & Future Directions:

These major research programs were developed; the first is a population-based prevalence study- UAE Diabetes and Lifestyle Survey (UAEDIAB), to estimate the prevalence of diabetes and its risk factors (Funded and completed 3500 participants). This is a major project now recruiting Local Emirati families from Sharjah, Ajman, RAK, Fujaira, UMQ and Dubai.

The second major program, we are currently focusing on is the molecular/ genetic aspects of diabetes to identify specific mutations in our population to assist in understanding the local genetic make-up of the population so that targeted therapies could be developed. Our initial Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young (MODY) has been completed and the molecular analyses including 2nd generation sequencing is being conducted in Baker/ IDI. Few of the group members are members of Diabetes National Community.

Research opportunities:

The scope of the research activities of members is mainly clinical and basic molecular biology of patients with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The members, however, share a common interest in research that is related to diabetes and/or is fundamental to understanding its pathogenesis, hence the development of new treatment strategies. The group aims at developing an infrastructure that could serve as a catalyst to stimulate innovative research. The cornerstone of the group is its six research themes and to seek funding for basic as well clinical investigators with the opportunity more efficiently utilize resources and expand the scope of their research programs. The main goals are to:-

· Stimulate multidisciplinary interactions, particularly between basic and clinical scientists;
· Promote new research programs in the area of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases;
· Enhance the quality of research training and
· Expand and amplify research efforts in diabetes and related cardiovascular disorders.


· Reduce the prevalence of risk factors for diabetes and other non-communicable diseases including obesity, hypertension and sedentary lifestyle

· Identify the environmental-genetic/ molecular interaction by identifying molecular changes associated with obesity, diabetes and its complications

· Identifying genetic changes associated with each complication in different ethnic groups of UAE utilizing our current population-based study data

· Early identification of pre-diabetes and diabetes to start early intervention and delay the complications

· Bridge the gap in management by finding the factors that enhance implementation of best practice guideline.


1. Clinical research including ―The determinants of diabetes complications in Type 2 diabetes‖. This project will recruit diabetic patients from Rashid Diabetes center, primary care centers as well as the university hospital.

2. Molecular/ genetic of diabetes. We have collected about 3,500 blood samples during the first phase of our national diabetes study and DNA was extracted from them. The samples are ready for next generation sequencing (GWAS) as well as perhaps axon (RNA) sequencing. Furthermore we started to look at the micro RNAs in a small sample of diabetics; accordingly a larger study may be initiated.

3. Our results from molecular studies conducted on samples of DNA collected from Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young (MODY) families, which was conducted in the USA as well as Melbourne- Baker/IDI seems very promising. We will continue the study with our geneticists using our extracted DNA from our National survey.

4. Auditing the current management of diabetes in the University Hospital Sharjah and other main Diabetes Centers including Rashid Centre to compare with Best Practice Guidelines

5. Studying the Economic Impact of Diabetes and Obesity. We and colleagues from the Business Administration have already prepared a proposal and submitted to Ministry of Health, seeking funding.


Publication is per each group member:

SIMR Affiliated faculty members research activities 
Faculty Name: Professor Nabil Sulaiman  
 Impact Factor

Journal Articles


1. Nabil Sulaiman, Salah El Badawi, ,Salah Abusnana, Amal Hussein1, Abdulrazzaq Madani, Fathiya Al Awadi, Maysoon Mirgani, Mahmoud Fikri, Paul Zimmet, Jonathan Shaw. A Novel Approach to Systematic Random Sampling in Population Surveys: Lessons from the UAE National Diabetes Study (UAEDIAB), Journal of Diabetes 2015 (Accepted on 17/09/ 2014, ID: JDB-2014-384) 
2. Nabil Sulaiman, Elaine Hadj, Amal Hussein, Doris Young. Peer-supported Diabetes Prevention Program for Turkish and Arabic Speaking Communities in Australia. ISRN Family Medicine, 2013, (ID 735359) 6 pages. 
 3. Sausan Al Kawas, Hadeel Abu Ghazzi and Nabil Suliman. Knowledge and oral health awareness about diabetes among college population in United Arab Emirates: A pilot study. World Journal of Medical Sciences 2011, 6 (1): 
4. Nabil Sulaiman, Aisha Hamdan, Hani Tamim, Dhafir A Mahmood, Doris Young. The prevalence and correlates of depression and anxiety in a sample of diabetic patients in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. BMC Family Practice 2010, 11:80 
 5. Nabil Sulaiman, Aisha Hamdan, Dhafir Al-Bedri, Doris Young. Al Badri. Diabetes knowledge and attitudes towards prevention and health promotion: qualitative study in Sharjah,United Arab Emirates. Int. J. Food Safety Nutrition and Public Health 2009,2(1):78-88 
 6. John Furler, Christine Walker, Irene Blackberry, Trisha Dunning, Nabil Sulaiman, James Dunbar, James Best and Doris Young. The emotional base of self-care in chronic illness: A qualitative study of the role of health professional support in the self-management of type 2 diabetes. BMC Health Services 2008, 8:214 


Conference Abstract


1. Nabil Sulaiman, Salah El Badawi, Salah Abusnana, Amal Hussein, Abdulrazzaq Madani, Fathiya Al Awadi, Maisoon Mairghani, Mahmoud Fikri, Paul Zimmet, Jonathan Shaw. High prevalence of diabetes among Arabs and Asians in the United Arab Emirates: UAEDIAB – Results of Phase 1. Emirates Diabetes and Endocrine Congress 19-21 Feb 2015 Emirates Diabetes and Endocrine Congress.UAE/February  2015
2. Nabil Sulaiman, Salah El Badawi, et al., Paul Zimmet, Jonathan Shaw. High prevalence of diabetes among expatriate residents of the United Arab Emirates. IDF Congress 21-24

Singapore/November 2014



3. Nabil Sulaiman, Salah El Badawi, et al Paul Zimmet, Jonathan Shaw. The National Diabetes Study Update: Phase 1 result. 4th Regional Conference on Diabetes and Obesity - RCDR 2014.UAE /November 2014.


SIMR Affiliated faculty members research activities 
​Faculty Name: Dr Salah Abusnana 
 Impact Factor

Journal Articles


1.Sadiya, A. Ahmed, S. M., Skaria, S., Abusnana, S. 2014. Vitamin D Status and Its Relationship with Metabolic Markers in Persons with Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in the UAE: A Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Diabetes Research 2014, 1-7. 
2.Farajallah, A., Ahmed, A., Abdullah, N., Andrew, P., Abusnana, S. 2014. The Relationship between Type 2 Diabetes and Total Ghrelin Level in a Population Sample in the United Arab Emirates, IOSR 4, 01-08. 
3.Almousa, A., Thomas, M., Siddieg, H., Varghese, S., Abusnana, S. 2013. The Glycemic Index of Traditional Types of Bread in UAE. Journal of Nutrition and Food Science 3, 1-6. 
4.Hypertension target in diabetes, revisiting the evidence, Iben Sina Juornal, Dec 2012. 


Conference Abstract


1.4th Regional Conference on Diabetes and Obesity – RCDR 2014UAE/Nov 2014
2.The Second Clinical Congress of the Gulf Chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), Abu Dhabi, UAEAbuDhabi,UAE /Oct 2014
3.Symposium: Diabetic Nephrology – RCDR 2014May 2014
4.1st MENA Type 1 Diabetes Summit,May2014 /Abu Dhabi, UAE
 5.The 4th Emirates Diabetes and Endocrine Congress 2014 (EDEC 2014)Dubai, UAE /Feb 2014


SIMR Affiliated faculty members research activities 
Faculty Name: Maha Mohamed Saber Ayad 
 Impact Factor

Journal Articles


1.Saber-Ayad M, Nassar YS, Latif IA. Angiotensin-converting enzyme I/D gene polymorphism affects early cardiac response to professional training in young footballers. JRAAS 2014;15(3): 236-42.2.27
2.Omar HA, Tolba MF, Saber-Ayad M. Potential Targets of Energy Restriction Mimetic Agents in Cancer Cells. Future Oncology 2014; 10(16):2547-2550.2.477


Conference Abstract


1. Saber-Ayad M, Nassar YS. Short-term inhaled colistin adjunctive therapy improves survival of patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia. 44th ESCP symposium on Clinical PharmacyLisbon/October 2015
2. Saber-Ayad M. Brain and Glucose Homeostasis. 18th Pan-Arab Conference on Diabetes.Cairo/2014


SIMR Affiliated faculty members research activities 
Faculty Name: Amal Hussein 
 Impact Factor
Journal Articles


1.Nabil Sulaiman, Elaine Hadj, Amal Hussein and Doris Young (2013). Peer-Supported Diabetes Prevention Program for Turkish and Arabic-Speaking Communities in Australia. ISRN Family Medicine, Volume 2013, Article ID 735359, 6 pages.  -
2. Amal Hussein, Nahed Abdelkhalek & Hossam Hamdy (2010). AMEE Guide Supplement: Setting and Maintaining standards in multiple choice examinations: Guide supplement: 37.3 – Practical Application 1 Comparison of three examination standard setting methods. Medical Teacher , 32, 610-612.2.170
3.Nahed Abdelkhalek, Amal Hussein & Hossam Hamdy (2010). Using team-based learning to prepare medical students for future problem-based learning. Medical Teacher, 32, 123-129.2.170

4. Nahed Abdelkhalek, Amal Hussein, Nabil Sulaiman & Hossam Hamdy (2009). Faculty as simulated patients (FSPs) in assessing medical students' clinical reasoning skills, Education for Health, 22 (3), available from




Conference Abstract



1.Hossam Hamdy, Amal Hussein, Nahed Abdelkhalek. Inculcating research culture in a PBL curriculum.


Presented at the  Association of Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) on 23rd August, 2013, Prague, Czech Republic.


Education & Training

Workshops :

Conferences presentations are one important target, in order to achieve collaboration and integration with local and international societies.



The diabetes project will have an implication on the local community as well as in national recognition. The members of the group expect to publish their results in internationally recognized journals, in addition to a detailed report to the local health authorities.


Research updates:

· The 3,500 samples collected from Phase 1 of The National Diabetes Study, and

· on Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young ―MODY‖ the DNA samples

Related Links:

Collaborative bodies:

This group attracted funding from various funding bodies and is already applied for other grants inside and outside the University of Sharjah.

· UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study (Survey) - Sanofi Avantis, 2012 – 2016 (Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Badawi, al)

· UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study- Baker/ IDI, 2012 – 2016 (Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Badawi, al)

· UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study- MOH- GCC, 2013 (Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Badawi, al)

· Health Awareness Survey-Ministry of Health, 2013 (Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Badawi, al)

· Health Awareness Survey-Ministry of Health 2012 Repeated

· Health Awareness Survey-Ministry of Health 2011 Repeated

· National Asthma and Allergy Epidemiology Study (Bassam Mahboub, Nabil Sulaiman) 2009-2011

· Maturity Onset Diabetes in the Young (MODY), Hamdan's Award

· Ahmad R Al-Shaye, Arab M Hamouda and Ahmed T El-Serafi Characterization of induced antiviral response in conjunction with epigenetic modifiers. Boehringer Ingelheim undergraduate students research grants, 2015.

· Ghayth H Alawwa , Dalia A Al-habahbeh , Layal M Al Barghouthi , Shahd A Abasaeed , Arab M Hammoudeh and Ahmed T El-Serafi. Epigenetic Modifiers Influence on beta Cells Differentiation of Human Cord Blood Derived Stem Cells. Boehringer Ingelheim undergraduate students research grants, 2014.

There is realistic potential for collaboration with groups working on molecular/ genetic mutations in chronic diseases in future.

We are also collaborating with the Finance and Economics Research Group to work on the economic impact of diabetes in UAE. A proposal was completed and submitted to the MOH for funding.

Research Institutes

The research facilities in Sharjah Institute for Medical research  is great asset  for our research themes, such as the DNA/RNA extraction station, conventional and real time PCR platforms, gel electrophoresis system, freezers (-20oC, -80oC and -140oC), in addition to the basic equipment, such as centrifuges, pipettes,….


1. Rashid Center for Diabetes and research.

2 .Ministry of Health.

3. Baker/ IDI.

4. University Hospital Sharjah.

5. Sanofi Avantis.