P.O. Box 3660, Riyadh 11481, Mail Code 1515 (KAIMRC)
+966 (11) 429-4444
+966 (11) 429-4440

EASTERN REGION

  • Overview
  • Objectives
  • Research Projects
  • Services
  • Team
  • Contact Details

King Abdullah International Medical Research Center in Eastern Region (KAIMRC-ER) was established in 2009 to further pursue the vibrant vision of KAIMRC to be a leading international institution in biomedical and clinical research. KAIMRC-ER shares strategic and innovative approach with central and western regions. It is located in purpose built building within the vicinity of King Saud Bin Abdul-Aziz University of Health Science, Al-Ahsa campus. KAIMRC-ER has state of the art scientific laboratories, conference rooms, audio-visual facility and administrative area. KAIMRC-ER administration consists of admin and operation offices to streamline and steer strategic and governance related operational and routine affairs in eastern region.

 KAIMRC eastern region has two Research Offices, one in Al-Ahsa and other in Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal Hospital, Dammam. Research offices are providing comprehensive assistance to researchers in conducting medical research in eastern region. There are numerous opportunities in the region to conduct research due to presence of many tertiary care hospitals and universities. KAIMRC eastern region is facilitating two hospitals and one KSAU-HS campus of Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs in the eastern region for research activities.

Research Training and Development section in KAIMRC-ER is involved in creation, dissemination and use of research knowledge by conducting research-related educational activities, i.e. lectures, symposiums, courses, etc. KAIMRC-ER also provides consultation and support services, such as but not limited to statistical consultation and research methodology consultation service.

Research Laboratory section of KAIMRC-ER is consisted of five scientific labs. Research labs are well equipped with latest infrastructure to facilitate KAIMRC-ER scientists, KSAU-HS faculty and MNG-HA hospitals researchers in the region. These labs can perform Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemical Assays and Cell Culture work.

KAIMRC-ER Animal Facility is going to be first fully functional facility with six holding rooms to house animals (2 for rats and 4 for mice), one receiving and quarantine room, two operating rooms to perform surgeries, injections, blood and tissue harvesting, etc. Animal facility is equipped with sophisticated instruments e.g. washing & autoclaving units, water & food dispensers, bedding dispenser, anesthesia vaporizer, surgical microscopes, etc.

Eastern region is extending support for medical research in all fields with focus on metabolic disorders including obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia and related comorbidities. KAIMRC-ER has dedicated qualified and skilled team that includes operations, admin support, clinical research coordinators and experienced scientists under regional head. KAIMRC eastern region team is enthralled to contribute in journey of biomedical research excellence and committed with the vision and mission of KAIMRC.

Advancement through performance management and collaboration

  • Performance monitoring through regular meetings, periodic reports and reviewing strategic plan
  • Promote communication and collaboration within MNG-HA eastern region and other institutes in region
  • Continuous improvement through effective process management, KPI monitoring and implementing quality standards

Focused KAIMRC research priority 

  • Create and facilitate research opportunities for biomedical research in eastern region
  • Promote research collaboration among basic scientists and clinicians in order to achieve better clinical outcomes and improved disease surveillance
  • Excel in obesity and diabetes research program as main priority by conducting high impact research that lead to change in clinical practice
  • Focus on other research areas such as cardiovascular, cancer, genetic disorders and communicable diseases in eastern region
  • Communication and dissemination of research findings within MNGHA, locally and internationally by publication of research findings in peer reviewed journals and participation in conferences
  • Recognize and acknowledge the research findings and translating them into patenting with the help of ITTMO
  • Utilize animal facility to take basic research to further level where animal experiments will be performed to generate research data

Summaries of KAIMRC-ER Projects

  • Transcriptome analysis of the Saudi patients suffering of Hyper Immunoglobulin E Syndrome (HIES): A surge for biomarker and therapeutic target discovery.

Project Summary: In order to identify biomarkers among AD-HIES, AR-HIES and atopic dermatitis patients, RNA gene expression pattern signature(s) will be identified using RNA-Seq. Using standard protocols, primary lymphoblastoid cell lines will be generated at KFSH&RC from patients with confirmed diagnoses with HIES due to DOCK8 and STAT3 deficiency and atopic dermatitis with food allergy and sent to us as per the collaborative research agreement we signed with them. Primary cell lines will also be generated at KFSH&RC from patients and their healthy family members (parents and siblings).  RNA-seq library and high-throughput sequencing are being performed at KAIMRC using either primary cells or transformed cell lines.  The data from the RNA-Seq will be analyzed and identification and validation of potential disease specific genes(s) will be identified.

 

  • Role of RORgammaT Transcription Factor in the Double Positive Thymocytes Development and Transformation.

Project Summary: In this study we are aiming to understand the role of the transcription factor, RORgt in the development of certain cell types and organs of the immune system and its role in preventing the development of T- cell lymphoma.  We are using RNA-Seq to identify the genes affected by the RORgt gene deletion, Chromatin Immunopreceipitation sequencing (CheIP-Seq) to identify genes directly regulated by RORgt protein, and to identify protein factors that Interact with RORgt using two-hybrid screening.

 

  • ABCC10 knockdown ameliorates diet induced diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance by decreasing glucosylceramide synthesis and secretion

Project Summary: Sphingolipid-dependent mechanisms have been described by many experimental and clinical studies in the pathogenesis of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, stroke, and hypertension. Obesity is strongly associated with insulin resistance, but the underlying mechanism is still an enigma. The strong correlation between insulin resistance and intracellular lipid levels suggests that excessive exposure to lipids or their metabolites may play a crucial role. During obesity and metabolic excess, rise in free palmitate levels enhances the sphingolipid flux through de novo pathway. Inhibition of glucosylceramide synthase, the initial and rate-limiting enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of glucosylceramides, improved glycemic control and decreased insulin resistance in several animal models of type 2 diabetes. Our key preliminary data strongly suggest that ABCC10 indirectly helps in the synthesis of glucosylceramides. We hypothesize that reduced glucosylceramides synthesis due to ABCC10 deficiency decreases glucosylceramide concentrations in membranes. This decreased glucosylceramides concentration in the lipid raft domains may alter cell signaling pathways, such as insulin receptors and its downstream molecules, which may lead to improvement in insulin sensitivity. The aim of our project is to find a role of glucosylceramides in obesity and insulin resistance and establish its link with ABCC10 transporter.

 

  • ABCC10, a potential therapeutic target to prevent atherosclerosis, obesity and type 2 diabetes

Project Summary: Lipid disorders are associated with clinical disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Besides type 2 diabetes, higher plasma levels of sphingolipids and glycosphingolipids are associated with increased atherosclerosis and they have been proposed as independent risk factors for coronary heart disease in human. Numerous clinical trials and outcome studies have demonstrated that improving dyslipidemia lowers the progression of atherosclerosis as well as the resulting adverse cardiovascular events. Therefore, there is a need to formulate new approaches or regimens to treat hyperlipidemia. In this project we will study the role of ABCC10 in the regulation of sphingolipids and glucose metabolism. The proposed studies in this project will establish new regulatory mechanisms that impact whole body lipid and glucose physiology and could perhaps be exploited to control atherosclerosis, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

 

  • Type 2 Diabetes and other Risk Factors leading to Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease and Chronic Renal Disease: A Cross-Sectional Study of a Community-Based Population in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia (AL-Ahsa).

Project Summary: Background: Diabetes Mellitus (T2D) is a progressive disease associated with development of microvascular (neuropathy, nephropathy, and retinopathy) and macrovascular complications that are associated with large artery stiffness and atherosclerosis. Other non-traditional risk factors, such as chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, and atherogenic lipoprotein changes, also play an important role in this pathogenesis. Significant efforts have been made to identify blood or urine biomarkers which can clinically detect early stages of T2D and its progressive complications. However, there are few longitudinal studies focusing on the expression of relevant biomarkers for diabetic complications during the course of disease. HbA1c and glucose levels have been widely used as the main determinant for therapeutic guidelines of T2D subjects. We hypothesize that certain abnormal lipoproteins, vascular endothelial-related biomarkers, and reno-cardiovascular monitors are more closely associated (correlated) than HbA1c levels with severe chronic kidney disease (CKD) and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) outcomes among diabetic patients. Therefore, we propose to study a selected panel of relevant biomarkers (covering various biological pathways) involved in the initiation and progression of T2D leading to CKD and ASCVD, with a hope of developing a clinically useful biomarkers, to classify and to broaden the therapeutic window for patients who are at risk for diabetic complications. This study will not only assess and help in the identification of relevant biomarkers in various pathological processes but will provide new insights into T2D mechanisms by establishing relationship between these biomarkers and vascular outcome. Methodology: 240 diabetic patients will be enrolled and categorized in four sub-groups: T2D without any apparent complications, T2D with CKD, T2D with CVD, and T2D with both CKD & CVD complications. Blood and urine samples will be collected and vascular function will be measured by non-invasive methods (arterial stiffness, PWV by Doppler SphygmoCor system; vascular reactivity index, VRI using finger plethysmography; and carotid artery intima and media thickness (CIMT) by echocardiography). Selected biomarkers will be quantified in plasma and urine samples using ELISA method. Associations between relevant biomarkers levels, cardiovascular monitors and vascular outcomes will be examined using univariate and multiple linear analyses by logistic regression. Conclusions/Significance: Study findings will help identify novel therapeutic targets for early T2D diagnosis and intervention.

 

  • Development of an in vitro co-culture cell model to study the role of endoplasmic reticulum stress in insulin resistance and glucose metabolism

Project Summary:  During chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and perturbation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling, the capacity of b-cell to meet the high secretory demand for insulin is diminished leading to the induction of apoptosis and pancreatic b-cell death in animal models and humans. Furthermore, chronic ER stress associated with obesity may induce b-cell death and depletion causing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is very important to understand how pancreatic b-cells deal with, and respond to ER stress, under physiological and pathological conditions. Furthermore, it may be vital to understand the molecular mechanisms associated with ER stress-induced apoptosis. In this study, to avoid the use of animals, we are proposing to develop a co-culture cell model to study the effect of ER stress response in pancreatic b-cells on the peripheral cells such as liver and adipocytes. The co-culture cell model will help us to understand the interactions between pancreatic b-cell with the peripheral cells involved in glucose homeostasis during insulin resistance and ER stress.

 

  • Cancer Stem Cells in Childhood Cancers at KAIMRC, Alahsa.

Project Summary:  Illustrate the nature of cells within tumor tissue or cell line will illustrate the pathophysiology of diseases and cancer relapse which help develop new targeted therapy for children with cancer.  This can be achieved by a) studying the expression of pluripotent transcription factors in childhood cancer primary tissues and cell lines, b) evaluate the expression of embryonic stem cell markers in cancer cell line and primary tumor tissue from child patients, c) compare the level of markers expression between tumor tissues of different origin, d) establish proliferative primary cells obtained from tumor tissue from child patients in monolayer culture in vitro, d) and characterize the survivor cells regarding stemness and tumorgenity properties. Evaluate potential of primary cells obtained from tumor tissue to anti-cancer therapy.

 

  • Genetic Architecture of Type 1 Diabetes (TID) in Saudi Families with Multiple Affected Siblings

To understand the genetics in multiple affected siblings in families with T1D, we will employ a combination of homozygosity approach or linkage analysis in combination with whole genome sequencing (WGS).  These two techniques together may increase power to detect rare genetic variants with a large effect size.  In fact, whole genome sequencing allows detection of a set of potential candidate rare variants, and genotyping will allow the identification of regions shared between affecteds and absent from unaffected.  However, family-based studies have been a  valuable system in search of rare variants. Hence, we expect that the Saudi families will facilitate our understanding of the mode of inheritance of HLA-haplotypes and non-HLA haplotypes; as well as provide invaluable insight into the complex genotype-phenotype correlations in T1D patients.   The characterization of variants, likely evolutionarily recent and under a weak selection pressure will allow a better interpretation of their functional role in particular studies.  Researchers are very interested in knowing more about the genes that contribute to T1D at the functional level and believe that identifying the genes and its function may lead to significant breakthroughs in understanding, and result in the discovery of new drug targets to treat T1D.

KAIMRC Head Office
KAIMRC-ER is a core of KAIMRC’s administrative affairs and research operations in eastern region reporting directly to Operations Director and Executive Director of King Abdullah International Medical Research (KAIMRC). KAIMRC-ER head office supervises and monitors performance of all support sections, offices and individual.  It is responsible in development and implementation of strategic plan to successfully achieve the mission and vision of KAIMRC. Overseeing all research activities, determining research priorities and to maintaining progress in quality and quantity of research in eastern region is also part of administrative functions.

KAIMRC-ER Operations:
KAIMERC-ER operations functions include maintaining the smooth and effective communication with KAIMRC operations, administrative affairs and other facilities within and outside MNG-HA. KAIMRC-ER operations determine needs and ensure availability of manpower, equipment, and operational support. Its other functions include supply chain management, forecasting, inventory management, quality and risk management, and contract management.

KAIMRC-ER Training & Development:
Main functions of Research T & D section in eastern region are to conduct research activities such as educational courses and lectures. Some of the courses regularly conducted in eastern region are Introduction to Clinical Research, ICH-Good Clinical Practice, Statistics in Medical Research Course and Research Methodology. This section plans and conducts annual research day, research workshops and conferences by inviting prominent researchers of regional, national and international level. We are also involved in activities regarding Research Intensive Summer Course in collaboration with KSAU-HS College of Nursing in Eastern Region.

KAIMRC-ER Research Offices (AlAhsa & Dammam)
The Research Office-Al Ahsa has a pivotal role in research activities of KAIMRC Eastern region. Research office provides extended support to researchers from initial step of consultation service, proposal writing and submission, amendments, through to conduction and completion of research. Scientific committee undertakes rigorous evaluation of submitted research proposals and is responsible for approval of all projects in the region. Research office backs researchers with qualified and experienced research coordinators to assist in the research process and also offers continuous support and guidance during the whole research process, including liaison with central services such as IRB, Monitoring Unit and Laboratory Core Facilities. Since 2008, more than 240 proposals have been submitted to the Research Office in Al Ahsa.

Research Office Dammam was founded in year 2012. The key functions are to assist researchers mainly in conducting research studies, to assign Research Coordinators to Principle Investigators, facilitation in scientific review and providing reliable and satisfying supplementary assistance to relevant end users. RO Dammam of KAIMRC-ER executes a significant role in Al Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal Hospital of MNG-HA. We also provide continuous support in executing research educational activities; workshops, courses and lectures coordinated by Training and Development (T&D) of KAIMRC-ER.

KAIMRC-ER Laboratory:
KAIMRC-ER Research lab focuses on biomedical research on diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer, immunodeficiency and others specialties. The infrastructure is dedicated to facilitate collaborative multidisciplinary research among scientists, physicians, faculty and students from the hospitals in eastern region and KSAU-HS campus Al Ahsa. Currently, KAIMRC-ER research labs are equipped to perform techniques e.g. DNA extraction and sequencing, Cell culture and microscopy, RNA extraction and cDNA synthesis, Conventional and real time PCR, ELISA, Recombinant DNA technology, Transfection and transformation, Plasmid preparation, Western blotting, Pulse field technique to separate large DNA fragments, Biochemical assays and thin layer chromatography.

KAIMRC-ER Head Office


KAIMRC-ER Operations


KAIMRC-ER Training & Development


KAIMRC-ER Research Office AlAhsa


KAIMRC-ER Research Lab


KAIMRC-ER Research Office Dammam