A Landmark Discovery in Genome Sequencing

Dr Farooq Omar Al-Ajili, School of Science alumni

We continue to celebrate the milestone achieved by Dr Farooq Omar Al-Ajli, School of Science alumni, ex-PhD candidate at Monash University Malaysia and Lead Investigator of the Qatar Falcon Genome Project in publishing a series of landmark studies on animal genome sequences in prestigious scientific journals, such as Nature. Nature is one of the world’s most-read, and most cited scientific journals, lending credibility to the publication’s reputation as highly impactful in academic circles. Dr Farooq Omar Al-Ajli, whose area of interest was in understanding and contributing towards the conservation of falcons, used this passion to drive his research forward, and in doing so, brought together key institutions - Qatar Falcon Genome Project, Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP) and Monash University Malaysia in a study which has become recognised as a key milestone in biology.

Within the aforementioned collaboration, Dr Farooq Al-Ajli was a linchpin in their work, as he sequences and assembles the gyrfalcon genome, which has been used in the research as evidence that researchers are now able to produce near error-free, and high quality animal genome sequences. Genome sequences such as this carry immense potential to address prominent questions in the areas of biology and disease, identify endangered species and contribute towards a repository of genetic information of sequenced animals for posterity.

The impact of these landmark studies do not, and will not fall short. These findings have opened research possibilities that could greatly benefit current bio-conservation efforts, as it can capture, analyse, and understand the molecular basis of biodiversity and evolutionary adaptations of varied species. Dr Farooq Omar Al-Ajli also shared that, by building on the results developed by the VGP, further genome editing efforts could go so far as attaining the possible recovery of extinct animals, and addressing global mass extinction.

The School of Science’s Genomics Facility and Tropical Medicine and Biology Multidisciplinary Platform were key contributors in this milestone research, and look forward to expanding their collaboration with the Qatar Falcon Genome Project and VGP, towards the inclusion of more indigenous species as part of the Malaysian BioGenome Project. This commendable achievement by Dr Farooq Omar Al-Ajli, with the support of the Monash University Malaysia School of Science is testament to the education students receive at the School of Science - one that pushes the boundaries of innovation and discovery, and shapes the leaders of tomorrow.