Omar El-Agnaf, PhD

Omar El-Agnaf

Omar El-Agnaf received his PhD degree in biochemistry from The Queen's University of Belfast, UK, in 1997. After postdoctoral training at The Queen's University of Belfast and St. George's Hospital Medical School in London, Dr. El-Agnaf established his own research group at Lancaster University, in 2001. In 2004, he moved to join UAE University as Professor of Biochemistry at the College of Medicine at UAEU. In September 2014 he joined College of Science and Engineering at HBKU in Qatar Foundation, and in January 2016 he joined Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) to lead the Neurological Disorders Center, and since March 2016, he is the Acting Executive Director of QBRI.

His research team pursuing three research topics related to Parkinson’s disease (PD): 1) pathogenesis; 2) biomarker discovery and validation; and 3) drug discovery. In 1998, Prof. El-Agnaf demonstrated, for the first time, that alpha-synuclein protein can aggregate and form amyloid-like fibrils similar to the Lewy bodies found in PD brain. His team also reported the unexpected discovery that neuronal cells constitutively release alpha-synuclein protein and that alpha-synuclein is normally present in cerebrospinal fluid and peripheral plasma. He pioneered the quantification of alpha-synuclein in biological fluids. Several inventions have emerged from his research, and his discoveries have greatly impacted the scientific research community, provided further insight into the molecular pathogenesis of PD, and offered new opportunities for the development of novel diagnostic tests for PD. His research has been translated into clinical studies to evaluate the potential use of α-synuclein protein in body fluids as diagnostic markers for Parkinson’s disease and related disorders.

Since Prof. El-Agnaf moved to the region, he has assembled an excellent research team and has been successful in attracting an array of competitive scientific funding from prestigious international funding agencies. He 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. Prof. El-Agnaf is considered a pioneer in the field of Parkinson’s disease. He has been granted 6 patents and 4 under consideration, and published more than 95 refereed articles, with 46 h-index and total citations >5,500.