King Saud UniversityKing Saud University looks to build on its medical research excellence

King Saud University looks to build on its medical research excellence

Infrastructure expansion and growing collaborations will further strengthen the College of Medicine’s research

King Saud University’s College of Medicine is not resting on its laurels and is eyeing infrastructure expansion and new research areas to grow its dominance, says Assim Alfadda, vice-dean for postgraduate studies and research at the Saudi university.

KSU is recognised as a leader in medical research. In 2021, the College of Medicine, which was established in 1967, published more than 1,200 publications, many of them in high-impact journals. This year, two dozen of its faculty were listed in Elsevier’s list of highly influential scientists around the globe, and more than 100 of its published papers were listed in the top 1 per cent of citations worldwide. The university also has patents for surgical devices, prosthetics and novel cancer treatments. 

“We are very proud of the quality of our research,” Alfadda says. Research excellence is a “wide and multi-faceted concept” that starts with patient care and research that is scientifically sound, with clear objectives and methods.

One of the major factors in KSU’s success is faculty support. From assisting with writing proposals to guiding academics through the paper-writing and revision process, the university focuses on supporting researchers to achieve their potential and produce high-quality research, Alfadda says. The institution recognises research quality  in staff performance metrics, while also making funds available to support scholars’ research capabilities through courses such as statistical analysis and report-writing.

The college has several distinguished specialised research centres, which focus on – to name a few – autism, sleep disorders and diabetes research. “In the area of metabolic diseases, which includes diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, we are really excellent,” Alfadda says. Another important area is immunology and infectious diseases, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, KSU researchers worked hard to shine light on the virus and its effects.

KSU’s researchers also have access to longitudinal cohorts, which allows them to study large groups of people over a long period of time. For example, since 2015 researchers have been recruiting patients to study non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, while another project is tracking a large cohort of children with autism to better understand the condition.

The college is also engaged in expanding its infrastructure and strengthening existing collaborations, as well as opening venues for more international partnerships. “We are working to expand our research infrastructure to incorporate more facilities, such as patient imaging facilities, so we can image patients within the college instead of doing this in the hospital,” Alfadda says. KSU will also expand its biobank facilities, foster new collaborations and adopt new research fields.

“We are now in close collaboration with industry to establish an artificial intelligence platform within the college,” Alfadda explains. “We can use all the big data that we have established over the past few years to make sure that we utilise them in the best possible ways in terms of building prediction, prevention and treatment models for diseases.” Such capabilities would assist researchers in drug discovery, for example.

In addition, the college aims to increase its local and international collaborations. “We have already signed several collaboration agreements with international bodies, universities and industry, and that will help our journey towards research excellence,” Alfadda says.

Find out more about the College of Medicine at King Saud University.

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