I want to turn computers into scientists so that they can discover general scientific laws from their perceptions of the world (the data). Our main area of application is biomedicine and molecular biology.

Robert Hoehndorf is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), where he is the Principal Investigator of the Bio-Ontology Research Group (BORG). 

Education and early career

Professor Hoehndorf obtained his Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Leipzig (Germany) in 2009. Prior to coming to KAUST in 2014, he was a research fellow in Aberystwyth University, research associate in University of Cambridge, and postdoctoral fellow at the European Bioinformatics Institute.

Areas of expertise and current scientific interests

Professor Hoehndorf's main academic interests are knowledge representation, neuro-symbolic methods, and using them to gain novel biological insights. He develops knowledge-based methods for the analysis of large, complex and heterogeneous datasets in biology, and applies them to understanding genotype-phenotype relations.

Research funding

He has obtained various grants to fund the following projects:

  • Sequencing and Computational Analysis of MRSA Samples
  • Improvement of Genetic Variant Prioritization Technology
  • Bio2Vec: Smart Analytics Infrastructure for the Life Sciences
  • The Whale Shark 100: Applying Population Genomics to Understand Mysteries of the World’s Largest Fish
  • Data Integration and Ontologies for Microbial Cell Factories
  • CompleX: Variant Prioritization in Complex Disease
  • Enabling desert revegetation by AI-tailored soil microbiome fortification
  • Enabling mangrove restoration by AI-tailored microbiome fortification
  • Metagenomics-based surface prospecting
  • Evolutionary potential of corals to adapt to climate warming
  • Computational methods for functional metagenomics: from protein functions to multi-scale interactions
  • IBNSINA-QI: Integrating Biomedical Networks and Semantic Information for Neural network Analysis of Quantitative Information
  • Development of Algorithms for Biotechnology and Biomedical Applications

Editorial activities

Robert is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Biomedical Semantics, and Associate Editor for Applied Ontology, Data Science, and BMC Bioinformatics.

Why computational bioscience?

I entered computational bioscience by accident, coming from a background in formal logics and started to apply it to biological problems which subsequently led me into computational bioscience.


I came to KAUST because of the great science that can be done here.

Professional Memberships

  • Member of Editorial Board: PLoS ONE (2018-2021)
  • Associate Editor: Applied Ontology (2017-present)
  • Associate Editor: BMC Bioinformatics (2017-present)
  • Member of Editorial Board: Data Science (2016-present)
  • Associate Editor: Journal of Biomedical Semantics  (2012-present)
  • Associate Editor for Applied Ontology, Data Science, and BMC Bioinformatics

Education Profile

  • Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Leipzig, Germany, 2009
  • Dipl. Inf., University of Leipzig, Germany, 2005