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 foreign minister calls for ‘transparent and independent’ Beirut explosion investigation

Updated 3 min 17 sec ago

Saudi foreign minister calls for ‘transparent and independent’ Beirut explosion investigation

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan told an emergency donors conference that Saudi Arabia stands with Lebanon
  • Four planes carrying Saudi aid have arrived in Beirut

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia called for a transparent and independent investigation into the Beirut explosion, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told an emergency donors conference that Saudi Arabia stands with Lebanon. He described the explosion that killed more than 150 people as “horrific.”

Prince Faisal said strong state institutions that work for the interests of the Lebanese people are vital to the reform required to guarantee Lebanon's political and economic future.
“The continued destructive hegemony of the terrorist organization Hezbollah worries us all, and we all know this organization’s history of using explosive materials and storing them among civilians in several Arab and European countries and in north and south America.”
“Lebanon is in dire need of comprehensive and urgent political and economic reform to ensure that this terrible disaster will not occur again,” he said.

He added that four planes carrying Saudi aid have arrived in Beirut.
The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has provided 290 tons of medical equipment, food supplies and housing materials.

The conference was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.