The Congenital Heart Disease Genetic Program (CHDGP) at the American University of Beirut started in 2002 with the DNA extraction from patients with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) registered at the Children’s Cardiac Registry Center (CCRC). The CCRC has today more than 1500 patients which were treated at the Children’s Heart Center by Dr. Fadi Bitar and his colleagues.
The aim of the CHDGP is to screen the genome for mutations that can cause CHD in patients and ultimately to seek prevention and therapy. The group is headed by Dr. Georges Nemer and co-directed by Dr. Fadi Bitar. Together they succeeded in recruiting more than 15 students in the last 6 years to do a M.Sc thesis in Biochemistry as well as training Medical students and M.D. graduates. The program has received funds from local and international funding agencies and published novel findings in prestigious journals like Human Mutation and Clinical Genetics.
Recently the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research (DHFMR) has awarded the program more than $ 1 million for five years as part of a collaborative network consortium aiming at deciphering the genetics of congenital disease in the Middle-East. This network includes partners across the Gulf region and the prestigious group of Christine Seidman at the Harvard Medical School in Boston.