The Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC) was established at KAUST’s inception in 2009 as one of the initial nine KAUST Research Centers with the objective of becoming a world-class regional driver in advancement in human health, environmental, and biotechnology research. To this aim, CBRC facilitates advanced research into the application of computer science, artificial intelligence, and mathematical modelling in fields in life sciences, human health, and environment. Because of the strongly interdisciplinary nature of these fields, a critical part of CBRC's mission is to design novel, integrated computational and experimental methods, resources, and tools for use in life sciences. Computational and experimental facilities at KAUST enable CBRC to achieve such a synergistic approach. The main foci of CBRC research are biomedical knowledge extraction, industrial/biotechnology applications, and human health.
Big Data in life sciences necessitate research towards extracting targeted and relevant information from enormous volumes of 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. The closely related work in knowledge extraction allows for additional insights from the hugely increased volume of published research through our knowledge exploration system. By analyzing a huge and ever-growing body of scientific literature, the CBRC Knowledge Exploration System allows for discovering hidden relations and hypotheses from widely distributed and seemingly unconnected facts present in the literature.
The KAUST Metagenomic Analysis Platform, developed by CBRC, is a class-leading resource containing different biomes. Metagenomics is useful in many applications, such as soil management, bioprospecting for industrially relevant enzymes and compounds, detection of novel genes and proteins, medical diagnostics, oil industry, epidemiology, and many others. In particular, metagenomics supports CBRC’s bio-prospecting of cellulase for exploring novel enzymatic genes for bio-fuel developments in the Red Sea.
CBRC also conducts research in structural biology, protein structure analysis, prediction and engineering, and cellular signaling.
A major focus of CBRC research is in human health. CBRC efforts in this area are diverse and resulted in collaboration with the hospital, institutes, and government departments. 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 pioneering work in 3-D tissue printing.
The current COVID-19 pandemics have made an additional focus in CBRC health-related research. In addition to tracking SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations, CBRC has developed in a concise time frame an immunodiagnostics 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 AI-based computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system for (a) detection of COVID-19 patients (especially the early stage), (b) classification of the disease phase, (c) segmentation of the infection, and (d) quantification of the infection regions.