Research Overview

CBRC is an environment that fosters science to solve challenging problems in biosciences with the following primary thrusts: 

Applications of Big Data Analytics and AI in Life Sciences 

Recent advancements in next and third generation sequencing resulted in an enormous increase in size as well as the number of available omics datasets. The size and complexity of data dependencies mean that new computational paradigms must be employed to analyze such datasets. Our research in Big Data analytics in life sciences is focused on extracting targeted and relevant information from enormous volumes of complex data through the application of machine learning, mathematical, statistical, and other methods. CBRC also actively pursues research in ontologies development that enables researchers to form a consistent, scalable view of information representing knowledge from various life science domains. We apply methods of AI in the development of diagnostic tools, medical imagining, drug repurposing research as well as in more fundamental research such as genomic functional elements and protein structures. 

Biotechnology and its Applications 

Applications of our research in biotechnology are an important part of the work at CBRC. Our research is focused on search for enzymes of potentially industrial relevance, biosensors, 3D printing applications in biotech, single-cell technologies and microbial cell factories. We also collaborate with other research centers in various fields, such as desert agriculture, marine ecology and water desalination. 

Biomedical Applications in Human Health  

A major focus of CBRC research is in human health. CBRC efforts in this area are diverse and have resulted in numerous collaborations with hospitals, institutes, and governmental agencies. Our work in population and comparative genetics and genome-wide association studies are particularly relevant for research into those hereditary diseases prevalent in the Arabian Peninsula. In addition, CBRC also conducts exploratory work in 3-D tissue printing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an additional focus in CBRC health-related research. In a short period of time CBRC developed a number of applications such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutation tracking system; an immunodiagnostic kit to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus; a system that serves to create a repository of viral genomes sequenced in Saudi Arabia; Rapid and Sensitive Detection of SARS-CoV-2 with a nanobody-transistor sensor (in collaboration with other KAUST researchers); and an AI-based computer-aided design system for classification of disease phase in COVID-19 patients. 

Environmental Studies 

Environmental studies are at the core of CBRC’s research. Inspired by the neighboring Red Sea and local habitats (desert, plants, and oil wells), CBRC proactively engages in fundamental and translational research to understand the diversity, in kind and in function, of the microbial world and translate insights and their implications to biotechnological and biomedical applications. CBRC researchers conduct complete experiments from sampling all the way to functional analyses. CBRC’s KAUST Metagenomic Analysis Platform (KMAP) is an example of an in-house bioinformatics platform that harnesses KAUST HPC resources to analyze diverse biomes and warehouses the resulting complex information to enable downstream knowledge extraction and bioprospecting endeavors.