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The University of Oxford and King Abdulaziz University (KAU) have partnered to create a new Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine.

The new international collaboration will bring together experts in medicine, drug discovery and artificial intelligence with the aim of finding new treatments for common diseases as well as rare genetic conditions. There will be a dedicated leadership teams at each institution; at Oxford, it will be overseen by the Centre for Medicines Discovery (CMD) in the Nuffield Department of Medicine.

Over the next five years, this international collaboration hopes to develop new drug targets, as well as create new platforms and technologies to aid drug discovery. Education will also be a key component of the partnership, including welcoming students from Saudi Arabia.

‘The University of Oxford has been a global institution since we welcomed our first international students in the 12th century,’ says Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. ‘Throughout our long history we have forged valuable partnerships with peers around the world so that together we could push at the frontiers of knowledge and identify solutions to shared problems. It is in that spirit that we join KAU to advance healthcare and drug discovery in the new Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine.’

The first programme of research will be on AI-guided drug discovery for rare and cardio-metabolic diseases, conducted by scientists from CMD, the Department of Psychiatry, the Department of Statistics and the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford, and researchers from KAU.

‘We are thrilled to launch the KAU-Oxford innovation centre as part of a cooperation that has been going on for years between both universities. It is a truly leading international research centre. This centre is part of KAU’s strategic plans to be a university at the forefront of academic excellence and innovation worldwide,’ says H.E. Professor Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Youbi, President of King Abdulaziz University.

‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has prioritised digital technologies and AI tools for creating and planning for the future as part of the Saudi Vision 2030; the Centre will focus on key diseases with national priority areas for research and development to build ingenious start-ups and companies for a knowledge-based economy.’

Professor Richard Cornall, Head of the Nuffield Department of Medicine, says, ‘This exciting new partnership is a step forward for the newly established Centre for Medicines Discovery. We envision the CMD to play a key role in the future of drug discovery, and this collaboration with KAU will accelerate medicines discovery for patient groups with unmet needs.’

‘Digital technologies are playing a significant role in transforming the health care and discovery of medicines,’ says Professor Abdulmonem Alhayani, KAU Vice President for Educational Affairs. ‘The Centre will bond leading scientists from both universities and utilize core research strengths in AI, machine learning, data analytics and quantum computing to accelerate the development of novel, effective, and affordable medicines.’

‘We are excited about the launch of this partnership and look forward to utilising AI technologies in the discovery of new medicines,’ says Professor Wyatt Yue, co-lead on centre’s first research programme. ‘We hope to make an impact in rare and cardio-metabolic diseases where there is huge unmet need in the UK, Saudi Arabia, and the wider world.’

'We are enthusiastic about this collaboration and the launch of the KAU-Oxford Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Precision Medicine. The objective and outcome of this centre are well aligned with the national innovation strategies of Saudi Arabia and will contribute in building the knowledge economy,' says Dr. Mohammad Al-Sudairi, the Saudi Vice Minister of Education for Universities, Research and Innovation. 'We are looking forward to see more research and innovation collaboration between Saudi and U.K. universities.'

‘Today marks the launch of an innovative and a truly leading international research Centre in the fields of AI and precision medicine,’ says Dr. Hani Choudhry, KAU co-lead. ‘Through this Centre both universities are embracing the future of medicine and innovation, and we are excited for this collaboration.’

'I am very happy to see a fruitful collaboration between two esteemed universities (KAU and Oxford), and I wish them all the best in this initiative,' says HRH Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom. 'Saudi Arabia has prioritised innovation as a part of our Vision 2030 programme. I am sure that the research output of the centre will have a great impact on humanity and provide solutions in challenging disease in the UK, Saudi Arabia and the world at large.'