14 April, 2020
Following a call by President Tony Chan for KAUST PIs to contribute through their research capabilities to alleviate the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts coordinated by Donal Bradley, KAUST vice president for research, and Pierre Magistretti, KAUST dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering division, mobilized a group of faculty to form the Rapid Research Response Team (R3T). The focus of R3T is to collaborate with and strongly support the Kingdom's healthcare stakeholders to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Efforts are focusing on the development of rapid diagnostic platforms, genomic analysis of the virus and bioinformatic tools to help track the spread and evolution of the disease. These efforts are based on research projects and competencies established over the years at KAUST. They are also part of the Smart Health Initiative recently established at KAUST to implement joint research projects with medical centers in the Kingdom.
R3T's group of faculty has been in close contact with the Saudi Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to coordinate efforts that will synergize to ensure fast and reliable diagnostic tests, as the demand in the Kingdom and internationally for the tests will increase. Initial efforts are aimed at optimizing existing tests to decrease the amount of reagents used without compromising reliability.
The group is also monitoring developments in other academic and biotechnology laboratories. In particular, R3T initiated a collaboration with the University of Oxford to implement a novel test that would greatly simplify the virus detection process.
"KAUST shall be a beacon for peace, hope and reconciliation, and shall serve the people of the Kingdom and the world."
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 1924 – 2015
Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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