Dr. Omar El Agnaf
Acting Executive Director(QBRI)
Director of Neurological Disorders Center (QBRI)
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 Faculty 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 (over $6.0 M) 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. 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 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.
Current research efforts in Dr. El-Agnaf’s laboratory cover the following topics: (1) Elucidating the mechanism of protein aggregation and deposition of and their potential link to neurodegeneration and cell loss; (2) Screening for small natural molecules as potential novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases; (3) Discovering novel biological markers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; (4) Developing novel immunoassays for diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in their early stages; (5) Developing conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease pathology for use in dissecting the pathogenic mechanisms, developing novel diagnosis and vaccines for neurodegenerative disorders; (6) Developing novel MRI- and PET-imaging compounds for Parkinson’s disease. These projects are supported and funded by several international funding agencies and pharmaceutical companies, including Qatar National Research Foundation (Doha, Qatar), Parkinson’s disease Foundation (NY, USA), Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (NY, USA); Lundbeck A/S (Copenhagen, Denmark); Weston Brain Institute (Canada) and Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (NY, USA).
H. Javed, S.A. Menon, K.M. Al-Mansoori, M. Al-Wandi, N.K. Majbour, M.T. Ardah, S. Varghese, N.N. Vaikath, M.E. Haque, M. Azzouz, O.M.A. El-Agnaf (2016). Development of Nonviral Vectors Targeting the Brain as a Therapeutic Approach For Parkinson's Disease and Other Brain Disorders. Mol Ther. 2015 Dec 24. doi: 10.1038/mt.2015.232.
N. K. Majbour, N.N. Vaikath, K.D. van Dijk, M.T. Ardah, S. Varghese, C.E. Teunissen, L.B.Vesterager, L.P. Montezinho, S. Poole, B. Safieh-Garabedian, T. Tokuda, H.W. Berendse, W.D.J. van de Berg and O.M.A. El-Agnaf (2016). Oligomeric and phosphorylated alpha-synuclein as potential CSF biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease. Mol Neurodegener. 2016 Jan 19;11(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s13024-016-0072-9.
A.H. Simonsen, B. Kuiperij, O.M.A. El-Agnaf, S. Engelborghs, S.K. Herukka, L. Parnetti, I. Rektorova, E. Vanmechelen, E. Kapaki, M. Verbeek, B. Mollenhauer (2016). The utility of α-synuclein as biofluid marker in neurodegenerative diseases: a systematic review of the literature. Biomark Med. 2016 Jan;10(1):19-34. doi: 10.2217/BMM.14.105. Epub 2015 Aug 28.
M.T. Ardah, K.E. Paleologou, G. Lv, S.A. Menon, S.B. Abul Khair, J. Lu, B. Safieh-Garabedian, A.A. Al-Hayani, D. Eliezer D, M. Li, O.M.A. El-Agnaf (2015). Ginsenoside Rb1 inhibits fibrillation and toxicity of alpha-synuclein and disaggregates preformed fibrils. Neurobiol Dis. 74:89-101.
N.N. Vaikath, N.K. Majbour, K.E. Paleologou, M.T. Ardah, E. van Dam, W.D. J. van de Berg, S.L. Forrest, L. Parkkinen, W-P. Gai, N. Hattori, M. Takanashi, S-J. Lee, D.M.A. Mann, Y. Imai, G.M. Halliday, J-Y. Li, M.A. El-Agnaf (2015). Generation and characterization of novel conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies directed against α-synuclein pathology. Neurobiol Dis. 79:81-99.
A. Tozzi, A. de Iure, V. Bagetta, M. Tantucci, V. Durante, A. Quiroga-Varela, C. Costa, M. Di Filippo, V. Ghiglieri, E.C. Latagliata, M. Wegrzynowicz, M. Decressac, C. Giampà, J.W. Dalley, J. Xia, F. Gardoni, M. Mellone, O.M.A. El-Agnaf, M.T. Ardah, S. Puglisi-Allegra, A. Björklund, M.G. Spillantini, B. Picconi, P. Calabresi (2015). Alpha-Synuclein Produces Early Behavioral Alterations Via Striatal Cholinergic Synaptic Dysfunction by Interacting with GluN2D N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Subunit. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Aug 20. pii: S0006-3223(15)00678-2. doi: 10.1016/j.
C.T. Leung, F. Guo,Y. Hong, E. Zhao, R. T. K. Kwok, N. Leung, S. Chen, N.N. Vaikath, N.N. Vaikath, O.M.A. El-Agnaf, Y. Tang, W.-P. Gai, and B.Z Tang (2015). Detection of Oligomers and Fibrils of α-Synuclein by AIE-gen with Strong Fluorescence. Chem Commun (Camb). 51(10):1866-9.
Full list of publications available here
or on Pubmed
- Alpha-Synuclein: the Gateway to Parkinsonism (Innsbruck, Austria), Feb. 2015.
- AD/PD (Nice, France), March 2015.
- 3rd Biomarkers in the early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders (ASSISI, Italy), June 2015.
- International Dementia with Lewy Bodies Conference 2015 (Florida, USA), Dec. 2015.
- Assays and Species Workshop 2015 (New York, USA), Dec. 2015.
- Seminar series, Van Andel Research Institute (Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA), Jan 2014.
- Lewy Body Dementia: Current Status, Future Directions (The Banbury Center Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory), Nov. 2014.
- Alpha-Synuclein in Parkinson’s Disease and Related Neurodegenerative Diseases: From Mechanisms to Therapeutic Strategies (Dubai, UAE), March 2013.
- AD/PD 2013 (Florence, Italy), March 2013.
- VIII Congress of SINDEM 2013 (Perugia, Italy), March 2013.
- Challenges in Translational Medicine (Athens, Greece), April 2013.
- Seminar series, Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, (Copenhagen, Denmark), May 2013.
- XX World Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders (Geneva, Switzerland), Dec 2013.
- Seminar series, King Abdul Aziz University (Jeddah, KSA), April 2012.
- Seminar series, Faculty of Medicine, Perugia University (Perugia, Italy), May 2012.
- 2nd Biomarkers in the early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders (ASSISI, Italy), June 2012.
- Seminar series, Parkinson’s Disease Institute, (Sunny Vale, California, USA), Jan 2011.
- 1st IBRO Middle East Neuroscience Conference (Al Ain, UAE), Feb. 2011.
- AD/PD 2011 Disease (Barcelona Spain), March 2011.
- Neurodegenerative Disorders Immunotherapy and Biomarkers (Uppsala, Sweden), May 2011.
- α-Synuclein Summit (NY, USA), Jan 2010.
- 2nd International Conference on Drug Design and Discovery (Dubai, UAE), Feb. 2010.
- Seminar series, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center, Lund University (Lund, Sweden), Feb. 2010.
- Seminar series, H. Lundbeck A/S, (Copenhagen, Denmark), Feb. 2010.
- Biomarkers for DLB and PDD (Bethesda, USA), April 2010.
- Seminar series, King Abdul Aziz University (Jeddah, KSA), June 2010.
- 1st Biomarkers in the early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disorders (ASSISI, Italy), June 2010.
- α-Synuclein Imaging Workshop (NY, USA), Nov. 2010.
- The 7th International Congress on Mental Dysfunctions & Other Non-Motor features in Parkinson's Disease (Barcelona Spain), Dec. 2010.
- Seminar series, King Abdul Aziz University (Jeddah, KSA), Dec. 2010.
- 6th GCC Medical Student Conference (Al Ain, UAE), January 2009.
- 9th International Conference AD/PD (Prague, Czech Republic), March 2009.
- Clinicopathological Conference on DLB/PDD (Kassel, Germany), March 2009.
- 2nd Al Ain International Genetics Conference (Al Ain, UAE), October 2008.
- 1st International Conference on Alpha-synuclein in Health and Disease (Lausanne, Switzerland) September 2008.
- 1st International Conference on Drug Design and Discovery (Dubai, UAE), February 2008.
- Satellite meeting on Parkinson's disease, organized by IBRO (Gold Coast, Australia), July 2007.
- Seminar series, Faculty of Medicine, Perugia University (Perugia, Italy), April 2007.
- Invited speaker, seminar series, College of Medicine & Health Sciences ( Sultan Qaboos University (Masqat, Oman), February 2007
- Inaugural Parkinson’s Disease Therapeutics Conference (NY, UAS), October 2007.
- EMBO-FEBS workshop on amyloid formation (Florence, Italy), March 2006.
- Biochemical Society Meeting, from genes to systems (Glasgow, UK), July 2005.
- The First International ICAM Workshop On Protein Aggregation and Amyloid Formation in Systemic and Neurodegenerative Diseases (Lausanne, Switzerland), July 2005.
- The XXXIX Middle East Medical Assembly (Beirut, Lebanon), May 2005.
- Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College (London, UK), April 2004.
- St. George’s Hospital Medical School (London, UK).
- 6th International Conference AD/PD (Seville, Spain), May 2003.
- Royal Society of Chemistry Meeting (Birmingham, UK), August 2001.
- Biochemical Society Meeting, Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh, UK), April 2002.