KAUST Faculty Team Receives SEDCO Research Excellence Award


Supporting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's efforts to promote scientific research and education, SEDCO Holding Company, the Jeddah-based private Islamic wealth management company, has made a research grant to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), with which the university's Development and Global Collaborative Research has created the SEDCO Research Excellence Award, a new program that will fund a three-year multidisciplinary research project at KAUST.

The recipient of the SEDCO Research Excellence Award is a team of six senior faculty members of KAUSTwho submitted the winning research proposal titled "The Deep-Sea Brine Pools of the Red Sea: From Novel Extreme Organisms to Commercial Applications."


The winning team will be led by Professor Ulrich Stingl, Assistant Professor, Marine Science, and includes Dr. Vladimir Bajic, Director of the Computational Bioscience Research Center; Dr. Kenneth Minneman, Dean, Chemical and Life Sciences and Engineering; Dr. Jörg Eppinger, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry; Dr. Samir Hamdan, Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology; and Dr. Niveen Khashab, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering.

Congratulating the winning team at an award ceremony attended by the top echelons of KAUST and senior SEDCO management, Dr. Adnan Soufi, CEO of SEDCO Holding Company said, "KAUST has a mission to be a world-class research hub and that mission requires resources to make it possible for outstanding researchers to tackle challenges facing mankind today – challenges that are of the greatest concern to the future of the Kingdom, our region, and the world. The research will be driven by questions such as how to provide water and food to sustain our populations and how to steward the Earth's ecosystems for generations to come. 

"Therefore we are delighted that KAUST has decided to use the grant to fund a single competitive research award and are especially pleased that the first winner of the SEDCO Research Excellence Award is a project that explores the potential of our own Red Sea to provide a wealth of scientific and medical benefits for the whole of mankind."

Dr. Soufi went on to say, "Involving six of the world's finest scientists, the KAUST research mission reflects SEDCO's own mission to grow wealth by investing in viable, competitive, and Shari'ah compliant business activities with best in class people, process, product, and performance. As a group of companies, SEDCO is committed to achieving excellence by selecting talented individuals of the highest caliber and empowering them to grow, develop, and mature their expertise for the benefit of all our stakeholders and to enhance Saudi Arabia's standing in the world.

"This commitment includes the value we attach to our place in the community and we fulfill our role as a good corporate citizen with a deep sense of social responsibility that extends to many sectors of society - and it is in this spirit that we fully support King Abdullah's intention that KAUST shall become a center of excellence for science and technology."

Professor Jean Frechet, Vice President for Research at KAUST, said "SEDCO's support of KAUST through this new research grant allows the University to further its commitment to advancing science and technology through transdisciplinary research, education, and innovation. This award is a significant agent that will allow for breakthrough discoveries within Red Sea research. Specifically, this winning project is an outstanding example of collaborative research that is fundamental to our University: research that bridges science and engineering for commercial applications to benefit the Kingdom and beyond."

Discussing the importance of such donations to KAUST, Dr. Abdullah Almojel, Vice President for University Development, KAUST, said, "we strive to advance and strengthen the mission of the university by securing sustainable philanthropic support which enables the university to pursue its primary purposes of teaching and research and providing opportunities for donors and funding partners to participate in the life of the university and engage in its future. We believe the pioneering gift from Sons of Sheikh Salim bin Mahfouz and SEDCO and the granting of this award represent the culmination of this mission.

Dr. Almojel went on to say, "This award is significant not only for the financial impact that it has on an important area of collaborative research based here at KAUST, but also because it is symbolic of the growing trust and allegiance between business leaders in the Kingdom and the research and discovery at KAUST. We believe that this mutual relationship is critical for economic growth in the Kingdom, and for addressing the global challenges of our time."

SEDCO's pioneering research grant to KAUST demonstrates the company's commitment to the economic growth and diversification of Saudi Arabia through cutting-edge research and collaboration. In support of this commitment it is proposed that the SEDCO Research Excellence Award could open new opportunities for possible future collaboration with researchers from all Saudi universities and KAUST is committed to work jointly with SEDCO to make this happen.

The researchers selected by this competitive process to benefit from the SEDCO award will be undertaking work which will achieve results in one of the areas important to the Kingdom: energy, environmental quality, water and coastal zone resources management, agriculture, aquaculture, biodiversity, industrial bioprocesses, human health, high-performance computing, new computer architectures, advanced computational techniques, applied mathematics, nanotechnology, or industrial materials. 


SEDCO, the Saudi Economic and Development Company, is a leading private wealth management organization that conducts its business according to Islamic guidelines widely known as Shari'ah. It manages a wide and diversified spectrum of real estate investments, investments in equities, and other businesses in Saudi Arabia and around the world. The Organization is dedicated to responsible and ethical practices through strong leadership and strategies. Its experienced management is committed to entrepreneurial excellence, business efficiency and commercial integrity. Through a diversity of investments, SEDCO combines modern money management techniques with Shari'ah guidelines and broadens the opportunities for Muslims worldwide to invest in a socially responsible manner in adherence to their faith. The Organization is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and has more than 1,500 employees. It is organized into three business groups: Real Estate, Financial Investments, and Direct Investments.