QBRI Collaborates With Argus Cognitive and Rush University

Qatar Biomedical Research Institute Collaborates With Argus Cognitive and Rush University on Autism Diagnosis Tool

06 Apr 2021

Agreement enables collaboration on unique project using AI and machine learning as a tool for ASD diagnostics

Qatar Biomedical Research Institute at HBKU Collaborates With Argus Cognitive and Rush University on Autism Diagnosis Tool

Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), has signed a collaboration agreement with Argus Cognitive, in association with Rush University, Chicago, USA, that will support the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

During the two-year collaboration, the organizations will jointly work on a project titled “Digital Phenotyping for Social Communication Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder”. The innovative project will utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to create an objective diagnostic tool for early detection and diagnosis of autism, using the gold standard diagnostic instrument, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2), a standardized activity-based assessment for ASD. 

The project will be funded by Argus Cognitive, a US-based high-tech IT company that aims to improve medical diagnostics, prognosis, and therapy choices by integrating AI components into medical devices or medical decision support systems. Dr. Fouad Alshaban, a senior scientist at the Neurological Disorders Research Center (NDRC), QBRI, will be leading the project. His research group at the institute focuses on applying epidemiological methods to evaluate the burden of ASD on Qatari families and those living in Qatar, through studying the prevalence rates of ASD and all contributing risk factors associated with the disorder. 

Speaking about the project, Dr. Fouad Alshaban said: “The experience gained through the execution of the eye tracking research project, spearheaded by my research team in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, enabled us to attract funding from significant foreign companies and institutions, working alongside QBRI on other innovative research projects such as the collaboration with Argus Cognitive.”

Dr. Lawrence Stanton, director of the NDRC at QBRI, said: “The overall goal of research on neurological disorders at NDRC is to make a positive impact on the health of people. Working in partnership with Argus is a major advancement towards this goal.”

Commenting on the new agreement, Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, executive director, QBRI, said: “The collaboration serves our goal at QBRI of improving early diagnosis and intervention of Autism Spectrum Disorder. We look forward to closely collaborating with Argus Cognitive and Rush University, combining the possibilities created by innovative technologies with the exceptional medical research and scientific capabilities of each organization. The mutually beneficial outcomes will certainly advance our aim at QBRI to transform healthcare in Qatar through innovation in research to support improving the healthcare system.”

Dr. Attila Meretei, president of Argus Cognitive, also welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with QBRI, saying: “We are excited to team up with the QBRI team, tap into their deep experience in ASD and evaluate the Argus medical decision support technology in Qatar. This collaboration will allow us to mirror a parallel study we run in the US, to compare two patient cohorts in separate geographies and to gain a deeper understanding of the signs and symptoms of ASD, and how these may be shaped by differences in language and culture.”

Various teams at QBRI’s NDRC are conducting research in different areas of autism, including epidemiology and phenotyping, modeling ASD using patients’ stem cells, autism biomarkers discovery, autism genetics, and autism immunology. Through its intellectual and applied scientific efforts, QBRI strongly supports the translation of novel scientific discoveries into more efficient therapies and better preventative strategies for human diseases. 

For more information about QBRI’s research centers, and core facilities please visit qbri.hbku.edu.qa