Tel: +974 4454 5664
Dr. Omar El-Agnaf
Acting Executive Director
Omar El-Agnaf was awarded a PhD in Biochemistry in 1997 at the Queen’s University Belfast, UK. He worked as post-doctoral scientist at the School of Biology and Biochemistry, Queen’s University Belfast, from 1997 to 1999. In 1999, Dr. El-Agnaf undertook an additional post-doc position at St.George’s Medical School in London. In 2001, he was awarded a research fellowship from the Parkinson’s Disease Society-UK to establish his research group at Lancaster University. In 2004, he was invited to join the College of Medicine at UAE University and was appointed to the Biochemistry Department. In September 2014 he joined HBKU at Qatar Foundation. Since he moved to the region in 2004, he has assembled an excellent research team and has been successful in attracting an array of scientific funding from prestigious international funding agencies. Dr. El-Agnaf is frequently invited as a speaker at international scientific and clinical meetings and is currently a member of the editorial board of several international journals. His track record of basic and translational research productivity is characterized by publications in high-ranking scientific journals.
Dr. El-Agnaf is considered a pioneer in the field of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. In 1998, Dr El-Agnaf demonstrated for the first time that mutations in α-synuclein protein associated with familial cases of Parkinson’s disease increased the tendency of the α-synuclein to aggregate and form amyloid-like fibrils compared to the wild-type protein. Several inventions have emerged from his research, including the unexpected discovery that neuronal cells constitutively release α-synuclein protein into the culture medium, and α-synuclein is normally present in human CSF and peripheral plasma. His discoveries have greatly impacted the scientific research community, provided further insight into the molecular pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease, and offered new opportunities for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools for Parkinson’s disease. His research has also been translated into clinical studies to evaluate the potential use of α-synuclein in body fluids as diagnostic marker for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. Recently, Dr. El-Agnaf’s group has developed novel conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies that recognize the pathology of Parkinson’s disease, without cross-reactivity to other neurodegenerative diseases pathology, such as Alzheimer’s disease. These novel antibodies have great potential for use in dissecting the pathogenic mechanisms, diagnosing the onset and developing a vaccine for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders. He has been granted 8 patents and 6 under consideration, and published more than 105 refereed articles, with 48 h-index and total citations >7,500.