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 Infectious Disease Research

The Infectious disease research department (IDRD) is a prime department at King Abdullah International Medical Research Center. The IDRD is divided into the following units: i) ‎‎Microbial Genomics and AMR Unit, ii) Virology and Vaccine Development unit, and iii) Biosafety Level 3 laboratory (BSL3). The department is dedicated to enhancing prevention and treatment of infectious diseases through diversified basic, translational, and clinical research activities, surveillance programs and reference laboratory services. This will be seamlessly integrated with education and training development to become the next generation of leaders in this field and attracting interdisciplinary national and international collaborators.

Microbial Genomics and AMR Unit

The global dissemination and the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) pathogens have ‎highlighted the importance of, and need for, understanding the role of high-risk clones and key ‎antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in the dissemination of resistance. The bacteriology unit has ‎a fully established laboratory that focused on high-priority research initiatives are intended to ‎build capacity to use and undertake research in hospital-associated infection, emerging/re-emerging AMR pathogens, molecular epidemiology, virulence and pathogenicity, and drug ‎development. For efficient epidemiology and infection prevention and control, a state of the art ‎whole-genome sequencing (WGS) based surveillance program is developed for monitoring AMR ‎and identify the burden and prevalence of AMR in our region. In addition to the research ‎activities and surveillance program, we are providing reference laboratory services to meet the ‎need for a wide variety of research and clinical tests using advanced technologies. The bacteriology ‎unit offers a verity of services to relevant collaborators including antimicrobial susceptibility ‎testing, molecular identification and typing, targeted sequencing, next-generation sequencing, and ‎bioinformatics analysis.‎

Virology and Vaccine Development Unit

The goal of this unit is to serve the purposes of national and international research in virology ‎field with a focus on viral pathogens that are of importance and relevance to the national public ‎health. The unit also focuses on vaccine development from the bench in vitro evaluation to animal ‎testing and human clinical trials. Vaccines against MERS-CoV are among the priority of this unit ‎with collaborations from a number of international institutes to further evaluate a number of ‎MERS-CoV vaccines in animals and humans. Different platforms for the vaccine are under ‎developments in the unit such as DNA vectors, adenoviral vectors, and poxviral vectors. These ‎platforms are being utilized to develop vaccines against viral and bacterial pathogens relevant to ‎the national public health.‎

Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory (BSL3)

The mission of this lab is the inclusion of research projects on emerging BSL3 pathogens such as dengue fever virus, rift valley fever virus, MERS-CoV, and others by using microbiological techniques to cultivate and study the genetic, cellular, and molecular biology aspects of such pathogens. In addition, there would be important outcomes associated with the usage of the BSL3 research to understand the mechanisms of disease and identify drug targets which may culminate with both drug and vaccine development.​​

  • To establish a local/hospital, regional and national AMR surveillance program
  • To promote patient safety in health-care facilities through a quality measurement of AMR
  • To mitigate the health and economic burdens of antimicrobial resistance
  • To determine the resistance rates for commonly used antimicrobial agents and “high-risk” pathogens
  • To enhance our capacity to collect, analyse and report on AMR and the use of antimicrobials
  • To study the genetic mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance using whole genome sequencing and bioinformatics
  • To establish effective data sources (e.g., microbial genomic databases) at the local, regional and international levels, along with data appropriate data sharing agreements and legal regulation
  • To develop new rapid diagnostic techniques and new systems and technologies
  • To establish national and international co-operation and collaboration to promote the sharing of knowledge, experience and data to combat AMR.
  • To develop vaccines against nationally important pathogens such as MERS-CoV.
  • To characterise emerging and re-emerging pathogens.
  • To provide research platforms to serve as national public health research lab for Infectious Diseases.
  • To enhance research on BSL3 pathogens.​

The IDRD laboratory is constructed to build a professional environment in which research is conducted on the national and regional priorities for infectious diseases. The IDRD aims to establish relevant and professional collaborations with governmental, academic and professional institutions and societies in order to become the underpinning of the infectious disease public health research for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  In parallel, the IDRD also focuses on training, education and capacity building as a necessity to sustain our mission. The research priorities are aiming to the highest impact on the national and regional health wellbeing and safety; through epidemiological, clinical, basic, and translational research. We identified the two national and global biosecurity priorities; namely MERS-CoV and Antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The research potential in addressing these two issues will lead to collaborations on epidemiology, clinical research, rapid diagnostics and vaccine development. Our scientists have a wide range of outstanding expertise in molecular and clinical microbiology, immunology, and vaccine development.

The IDRD provides a number of core services to researchers within and outside KAIMRC as follows:

General ID core services

  • Molecular virology testing
  • Molecular bacteriology testing
  • Immunology testing for infectious diseases.
  • Tissue Culture
  • Fluorescent microscopy

Special ID core services

  • Determination of the genetic signatures for the Carbapenem (antibiotic) resistance in Gram negative (particularly Klebsiella pneumoniae and E.coli) bacteria.
  • Sequence typing of Klebsiella pneumoniae and E.coli strains.
  • Isolation, culturing, purification, and quantification of BSL-2 viruses.
  • Gastroenteritis viruses genotyping.
  • Adenoviral and poxviral vector engineering.
  • Bioinformatic analysis of microbial genomics.

Procedures on how to access the services

A short summary of the project should be written and sent to the IDRD with a brief description of the required service. The IDRD would look into the request and communicate with the PI/requester to further sign a short service agreement before conducting the service experiments.​

  • Bacteriology Research
  • Virology Research: Ongoing Projects
  • Infectious Diseases Clinical Research
  • Other Research​