Interview with Ashish Koshy, CEO, G42 Healthcare

Leading from the forefront

At Medlab Middle East, G42 Healthcare will be showcasing its capabilities in genome sequencing, partnerships in the domain of molecular diagnostics, digitisation, and research programmes. The company will also highlight its futuristic projects that are currently underway at Biogenix Labs, the UAE’s first COVID-19 accredited large-scale detection laboratory and the Omics Centre of Excellence, the region’s largest and technologically advanced multi-omics facility. These include comprehensive solutions to fight COVID-19, research and academic areas related to healthcare and artificial intelligence, research on the Emirati Genome Programme, and detection as well as diagnosis of COVID-19.

A leading health-tech company, G42 Healthcare is on a mission to develop a world-class healthcare sector in the UAE and beyond, by harnessing data and advanced medical technologies to unlock the potential of personalised and preventive care and transforming the traditional healthcare ecosystem. In an interview with Medlab Middle East, Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer, G42 Healthcare, discusses the company’s initiatives in tackling COVID-19 and why the next decade in healthcare is all going to be all about patient care, greater technology, greater innovation. Excerpts:

How has G42 has responded to the COVID-19 crisis?

The UAE was amongst the first to take the lead in the global fight against COVID-19 and G42 Healthcare has been at the forefront of this battle. As the world fought a healthcare and humanitarian crisis unprecedented in its scale and magnitude, G42 Healthcare was focused on finding solutions. The company established a massive throughput laboratory in just under a fortnight, speeding detection of the disease, manufacturing essential PPE kits, and mapping and predicting trends in the outbreak including virus mutations. At the forefront in the battle against COVID-19, G42 Healthcare also facilitated the 4Humanity clinical trials, the world’s first Phase III trials for an inactivated vaccine against COVID-19 with over 43,000 volunteers from 125+ nationalities across the pan-Arab region, supported by UAE’s healthcare authorities. The complexities and challenges of COVID-19 brought enormous opportunities for learning, growth and innovation, which were deployed with speed and scale to deliver impact.

The theme of Medlab Middle East this year is United by business – Driving the industry forward. How in your opinion can businesses continue to operate in the new normal?

Nimbleness and swift adaptability have become the new normal and at G42 Healthcare. We believe that speed, innovative spirit, and national collaboration is extremely critical – reasons that brought the UAE safely to where it is today. Strategic collaboration is the only way to tackle the future, whether we talk about the COVID-19 or the post-pandemic world.

COVID-19 has highlighted gaps in technological adoption and propelled nations, industries, and organisations to condense two years’ worth of digital transformation into just a few months.

We are working towards a future where technology will help us develop high-impact and cost-effective industry solutions for healthcare, finance, sports, energy, and smart cities. We have, for example, leveraged our genomic capabilities to identify COVID-19 virus sequence to aid in better predictions and mutations, used AI in waste-water analysis for better community health management and used our multi-omics solutions to access valuable metadata on life-threatening diseases.

By leveraging our technical and business capabilities, with innovation and investments, we are ready to move to the next step in our growth journey.

What impact are technologies such as AI, machine learning, blockchain having on healthcare in your opinion? What are some of the growth areas in the industry?

Emerging technologies, such as AI, machine learning, blockchain are promoting innovation in healthcare around the world. With diverse aims and far-reaching goals, digital health looks to prevent disease, increase efficiency while lowering costs and most importantly, improve patient care. For example, our research on the Emirati Genome Programme (EGP) will enhance our knowledge of citizen’s genomes and establish a strong foundation of health and wellbeing. The use of AI interpreting large pools of genetic data, based on long read and short-read sequencing is enabling a better understanding of the human body at a genetic level, unlocking preventative, personalised and precise care and better health outcomes.

Our AI solutions have also helped predict lung cancer in ways that can boost the chances of survival for many people at risk. AI is now being applied to detect an outbreak in wastewater, thereby enabling early detection of threats to public health, as well as navigate the complexities of chronic disease management.

With AI and predictive analytics, we can understand more about the different factors in our lives that influence our health. By the next decade, this would mean that healthcare systems would be able to anticipate better, quicker and more accurately and quicker.

What, according to you, are the opportunities available to healthcare and trade professionals who attend Medlab Middle East?

Medlab Middle East is taking centerstage at a crucial juncture in the global context. The exhibition not only showcases the latest innovation in the medical technology domain but is also a great platform to collaborate and network with industry leaders who are transforming tomorrow’s diagnostics. We at G42 Healthcare are looking forward to partner extensively and share best practices with governments, leading international entities, scientists and researchers and the wider medical community who subscribe to our values and our mission as we develop solutions to future-proof the health of nations.

Could you shed light on any future plans or partnerships?

At G42 Healthcare, our plans are large in scale and bold in ambition. Beyond COVID-19, we have plans to support the health of future generations across different spectrums, including genomics, imaging and diagnostics, and digitization programmes, among others. We want to conduct research in disruptive technologies, work on the world’s most comprehensive population genomics initiative at the Omics Centre of Excellence, use AI-powered data analysis to study the spread of infectious diseases in wastewater to protect community health and curb adverse effects on the environment.

We believe the next decade in healthcare is all about patient care, greater technology, greater innovation, and constantly future-proofing the health of our nations. While the focus of the world remains on managing COVID-19, in terms of building capacity and putting an end to human loss, the UAE and G42 Healthcare are already looking towards leveraging the technologies we have built, to prepare better for tomorrow’s healthcare challenges.