Infectious Diseases Research Department

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

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

  • Complete Genome Sequence Analysis of High-Risk Uropathogenic E. coli Clones ST38 and ST131 in Saudi Arabia
  • Understanding the Virulence of Major Lineages of Uropathogenic E-Coli
  • Whole Bacterial Genome Sequencing and Analysis of beta-Lactam Resistance in Key Gram-Negative Pathogens-Enterobacteriaceae in Saudi Arabi
  • Molecular ‎epidemiology and ‎antimicrobial ‎susceptibility of the ‎major lineages of ‎Acinetobacter ‎baumannii in ‎Qassim area, Saudi  ‎Arabia and ‎development of ‎bacteriophage ‎therapy
  • Evaluation of antibacterial activity of liposome-encapsulated antibiotics against multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria
  • Novel Inhibitors of N-Acetylneuraminic Acid Synthase for the Treatment of Meningococcal Infection
  • Antibiotics Prophylaxis for Surgical Site Infection: Systematic Review, Metaanalysis and GRADE Profiling for Cesarean Section, Breast Canser, Colectomy, Appendectomy Surgery
  • Antibiotics Prophylaxis for Surgical Site Infection: Systematic Review, Metaanalysis and GRADE Profiling for Head and Neck, Joint Replacement and Bone Fracture Surgery
  • Antibiotics Prophylaxis for Surgical Site Infection: Systematic Review, Metaanalysis and GRADE Profiling for Cardiac, Vascular, Hysterectomy and Colorectal Surgery
  • Surveillance Of Antibiotic Resistant Gram Negative Bacilli In Saudi Arabia And Gulf State
  • Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Patients, Residents and Physicians of Appropriate Antimicrobial Usage and Antimicrobial Resistance in KSA
  • Quantitative Measurement of Antimicrobial use and its Association with antimicrobial Resistance in gram-negative organisms at intensive care units (ICUs) in KAMC- Riyadh
  • Molecular Genetics of Multi Drug Resistant Bacteria at National Guard Hospital
  • Studies on molecular mechanisms of colistin resistance in clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae from National Guards Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • Investigation on the ‎Genetic Signatures of ‎Antibiotic Resistance in Multi-drug Resistant ‎Klebsiella Pneumonia ‎from National Guard ‎Hospital, Riyadh.
  • Molecular genotyping and ‎Clonal Distribution of ‎Brucella infection in ‎Saudi Arabia (Project in ‎collaboration with ‎Ministry of Environment, ‎Water and Agriculture ‎‎(MEWA) KSA‎.
  • Investigating mycobacterial determination of immunopathology in Tuberculosis
  • Molecular Characterization of Salmonella species associated with Human Infections at the National Guard Hospital (Riyadh) – (KAIMRC).

  Virology Research: Ongoing Projects

  • Occurrence and Survival of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) on Intensive Care Unit ICU’s Inanimate Surfaces using Disc-Based Carrier test
  • Pilot study to perform molecular profiling of the neutralizing antibody repertoire in convalescent plasma of MERS-corona virus infected patients
  • Molecular Epidemiology of Human Diarrheal Viruses “Astrovirus and Nerovirus Infections”
  • National Study on the Molecular Epidemiology and Clinical Characterization of Rotavirus Infection in Children
  • Genetic Linkage and Microarray Analysis of The Susceptibility to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS- CoV)
  • Histopathological study of MERS-CoV patients
  • Intensive Care Unit Environmental Screening for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Phylogenetic analysis of MERS-CoV spike protein in Saudi Arabia
  • Evaluation of Adenoviral Vector-based MERS-CoV vaccine in dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia. ChAdOx1 MERS vaccine.
  • Development and Evaluation ‎of MVA-based MERS- CoV ‎Vaccine for Camels.
  • Collaborative ‎project: Cloning of ‎MERS-CoV specific ‎antibodies
  • Prospective study of MERS-CoV shedding camels and their contacts
  • Discovery of putative antimicrobial peptides for treatment of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome: an in silico and wetlab approaches
  • Characterization of MERS-‎CoV Isolates in Camels in ‎Riyadh and the Development ‎of an Anti-MERS-CoV Camel ‎‎
  • Characterization of MERS-CoV in Alpacas and Vaccine Development

Infectious Diseases Clinical Research

  • MERS002: A phase I clinical trial to determine the safety and immunogenicity of the candidate MERS-CoV vaccine ChAdOx1 MERS in healthy adult volunteers in Saudi Arabia.
  • MERS-CoV Infection tReated with A Combination of Lopinavir /ritonavir and IntErferon beta 1B: a multicenter, placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial (MIRACLE TRIAL)

Other Research

  • Determinants and Predictors of non-compliance with Hand Hygiene among HCW at KAMC- Riyadh.
  • Exploring the experience of healthcare providers who survived MERS-CoV and those who work under the threat of infection
  • Assessment of potential risk factors for infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) among health care personnel in a health care setting
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Hospital Research Capacity Survey for Regions ‎affected by the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)‎