Sharif Hala, biomedical researcher and co-founder of NoorD

Sharif Hala
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Updated 01 May 2020

Sharif Hala, biomedical researcher and co-founder of NoorD

Saudi Ph.D. student Sharif Hala is a biomedical researcher and co-founder of NoorDx, a DNA sequencing company, and one of the recipients of the Ministry of Health’s research grant to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hala currently works in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s (KAUST) department of environmental science and engineering, doing research into pathogen genomics focusing on clinical microbiology aspects.

He gained a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and a master’s degree in medical molecular genetics, both from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland.

As part of Prof. Arnab Pain’s pathogen genomics laboratory team at KAUST, Hala has been setting up partnerships with the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Weqaya) and several hospitals in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah to facilitate the genome sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of a large collection of Saudi SARS-CoV-2 strains.

In accordance with strict safety guidelines set by the World Health Organization, Hala has been driving from his home in Jeddah to several hospitals and quarantine hotels in the western region to collect samples from COVID-19 patients, and transporting them back to KAUST in his truck.

After spending hours collecting the samples, he meets Pain outside the KAUST gate (in accordance with safety guidelines) to hand over the swabs to be sequenced
by KAUST researchers. The extracted RNA is then analyzed through sequencing technology machines in the Bioscience KAUST Core Labs.

“These samples mean a lot for us because it means we can also help the hospitals in giving positive and negative samples. We can also provide a lot of good feedback to the treating doctors, and we can do the transmission,” said Hala.

Saudi Shoura Council convenes session online to tackle various measures

Updated 02 June 2020

Saudi Shoura Council convenes session online to tackle various measures

RIYADH: Saudi Shoura Council Speaker Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh convened a session of the council online on Monday during which it approved proposals to amend and finance the system to combat terrorism, said Assistant Speaker Dr. Yahya bin Abdullah Al-Samaan.

Al-Samaan said the council also called on the General Accounting Bureau to expedite work on the recovery of state dues.

The council, he said, approved the draft system of the Tourism Development Fund.

It also called on the Ministry of Economy and Planning to publish  digital indicators for the performance of different sectors and regional sustainable development. The Shoura Council urged the ministry to release economic indicators regularly.