Skoltech and University of Sharjah unveil lab pioneering biomedically-informed artificial intelligence

The Skoltech-University of Sharjah Biomedically-Informed Artificial Intelligence Laboratory — BIMAI-Lab — has officially opened its doors. Originating with the collaboration between the two universities’ biomedical AI researchers that goes back to 2021, the new laboratory will be an integral part of the Skoltech Biomedical Initiative and will lead the way in advancing artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions tailored to biomedical applications. 

Co-chaired by Assistant Professor Maxim Sharaev from Skoltech Applied AI and Professor Rifat Hamoudi, the director of the Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, the launch of BIMAI-Lab marks the onset of a transformative era in the field. Before forming the team of the newly established lab, the Skoltech and UoS researchers had already delivered numerous joint publications, conference reports, and patent submissions stemming from their exploration of various AI-based approaches. That includes dimensionality reduction and data fusion techniques, with applications in complex, often heterogeneous disease diagnostics, prognosis, and treatment strategy.

At the opening ceremony, Professor Alexander Kuleshov, the Skoltech President, and University of Sharjah Professor Rifat Hamoudi cut the red ribbon, symbolizing the beginning of BIMAI-Lab’s groundbreaking journey

“The lab’s mission extends beyond research and includes education, innovation, and commercialization efforts,” said Professor Evgeny Burnaev, the director of Skoltech Applied AI. “BIMAI-Lab aims to produce high-impact papers, stimulate academic discourse, and innovate in software products, biomarker panels, and collaborative startups. With 36 dedicated members, including 19 in Russia, BIMAI-Lab is at the forefront of this endeavor.”

Laboratory co-chair Assistant Professor Maxim Sharaev from Skoltech Applied AI commented: “BIMAI-Lab pushes the boundaries of artificial intelligence and mathematics to reshape biomedical research. Its mission is to develop solutions that drive progress in precision medicine, ultimately enhancing lives worldwide.”

Professor Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy, the chancellor of the University of Sharjah, extended his heartfelt appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the deputy ruler of Sharjah and the president of the University of Sharjah, for his continuous support of UoS researchers. Professor Maamar Bettayeb, the vice chancellor for research and graduate studies; Professor Qutayba Hamid, the vice chancellor for medical colleges and health sciences and dean of the college of medicine; and Professor Rabih Halwani, the director of the research institute for medical and health sciences, acknowledged the recent visit to Skoltech as a remarkable milestone in fostering global collaborations and advancing research endeavors. This visit has not only strengthened the ties between the institutions but has also showcased the dedication of UoS to achieving excellence in research and innovation on the international stage.

Laboratory co-chair Professor Rifat Hamoudi from UoS added: “BIMAI-Lab represents a dynamic partnership between two leading institutions, harnessing the strengths of Skoltech and the University of Sharjah. Collaborative endeavors in research, education, and innovation play a pivotal role in addressing complex medical challenges and shaping the future of health care.”

The head of the Technology Transfer Office at UoS, Mohamed Al Hemairy, shared insights and experiences related to intellectual property as well as joint startup creation covering the various aspects of ideation, business planning, and team building.

The prior collaboration between the researchers now making up the new laboratory’s team means they’re off to a good start, with pioneering projects in the diverse fields of psychiatry, neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, respiratory issues, and metabolic disorders. This research produces valuable resources, including databases, biomarker panels, medical support systems, expert tools, AI software, and frameworks.

The innovative spirit of BIMAI-Lab extends to education: The laboratory will engage master’s and PhD students in research and offer courses on relevant topics. Ultimately, this comprehensive approach leads to the development of solutions tailored to specific clinical applications, including decision support systems and diagnostic tools.

BIMAI-Lab will benefit from the established partnerships with esteemed institutions in Russia and the United Arab Emirates. International collaboration and networking are integral to the joint lab’s approach, as it actively plans partnerships with esteemed European scientific and biomedical institutions.

In 2022-2023, the future BIMAI-Lab team achieved significant milestones, including the creation of a comprehensive database comprising 180 samples. Registered as joint intellectual property, this multimodal database encompasses neuroimaging, multiomics, and clinical phenotype data for both healthy controls and patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) across various age groups. Additionally, the Skoltech-UoS team developed AI-based models for MDD detection based on EEG and transcriptomic data, while also identifying biomarker candidates for MDD from these AI models.

As BIMAI-Lab looks ahead to the future, it envisions revolutionizing the intersection of AI and biomedicine through groundbreaking research, strategic collaborations, and educational initiatives.