ACC | Clinical Research Institute (CRI)
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Clinical Research Institute (CRI)

About us


The Clinical Research Institute (CRI) was established in 2010 to provide the required infrastructure to support and promote innovative clinical research and collaborative activities at the Faculty of Medicine (FM) and AUBMC, thus leading to discoveries, advancement of clinical practice, and improvement in patient care outcomes. The CRI offers a wide range of services to investigators through its various units, programs and centers. Visit the CRI’s webpage at:



The mission of the CRI is to improve patient care and health through innovative clinical and translational research. It provides clinical investigators with research support and infrastructure, as well as education and training.



The vision of the CRI is to enable the Faculty of Medicine to achieve regional leadership for clinical and translational research and become a leading regional resource in the field.


The CRI is directed by Elie Akl, MD, MPH, PhD. Dr. Akl is a Professor of Medicine and serves as the Associate Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Akl is also the director of the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, co-director of the Center for Systematic Reviews of Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK), and director of the AUB GRADE Center. He is affiliated with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University in Canada. Dr. Akl’s research expertise is in clinical trial methodology, systematic review and meta-analysis, practice guideline development, and thrombosis. Thomson Reuters listed Dr. Akl as one the 2015 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty Members

Ali Abu Alfa, MD, Ex-officio

Elie Akl, MD, PhD, Director of the Clinical Epidemiology Unit (CEU)

Lina Badr, PhD, Nursing Liaison

Habib Dakik, MD, Director of the Clinical Research Unit (CRU)

Robert Habib, PhD (on leave)

Mona Nabulsi, MD, MS, Director of the Research Education Unit (REU)

Hani Tamim, PhD, Director of the Biostatistics Unit (BSU)


Affiliate members

Bilal Kaafarani, PhD

Marlene Chakhtoura, MD, MS


Staff Members

Zeina Akiki, PhD, FRRP Administrator

Lara Al Hakim, BS, CRU Research Nurse and MRVP coordinator

Rola El Rassi, MS, CRI Administrator

Andrea Darzi, MD, MPH, Assistant Director of the AUB Grade Center

Sara Khansa, MBA, REU Coordinator

Aurélie Mailhac, MS, BSU Data Analyst


Research Assistants

Lara Kahale, MS

Maha Makki, BS


Research Fellows

Maram Hakoum, MD


In addition, the CRI hosts on a regular basis one or two MPH practicum students from the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB and a number of undergraduate students participating in research projects.

The Biostatistics Unit (BSU)

The BSU was established with the objective of providing statistical support and consultancy to researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and at AUBMC. The ultimate aim of the BSU is to promote high-standard clinical research through appropriate statistical analysis.

The BSU offers a wide range of services, including:

  • Proposal development (study design, data collection tools, sample size calculation, data analyses plan, and other proposal-related issues)
  • Data analyses (interim analysis, data management, data cleaning, descriptive analysis, inferential analysis, and other analysis-related issues)

Visit the BSU webpage at:

The Clinical Epidemiology Unit (CEU)

The CEU specializes in systemic reviews, meta-analysis, and guideline development. The CEU aims to strengthen the field of clinical epidemiology in Lebanon and establish AUB as its leader in the Middle East region. The unit benefits from close collaboration with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University in Canada. The CEU also co-hosts the World Health Organization (WHO) Center for Systematic Reviews in Health Policy and Systems Research. Services offered at the CEU are:

  • Support in planning, designing, and conducting:
    • systematic reviews and meta-analyses in the clinical and public health fields;
    • studies of methodology of clinical trials and systematic reviews;
    • clinical and public health practice guidelines
  • Workshops on conducting systematic reviews and developing clinical practice guidelines

Visit the CEU webpage at:

The Clinical Research Unit (CRU)

The CRU was set-up to foster a culture of quality medical research through empowering investigators, facilitating efficient operations, and providing research support services at AUB. The CRU plans on optimizing outpatient clinical research operations by guiding faculty members and their research assistants throughout the conduct of clinical trials. The CRU is a functional unit that provides a number of facilities to the principal investigators conducting clinical trials at AUBMC. These facilities are patient encounter room, physical assessment room, phlebotomy and blood processing area, specimen and medication storage area. Services offered at the CRU are:

  • Study conduct and management (perform patient examination and interviews, provide phlebotomy and sample collection services, maintain case report forms, facilitate study monitoring)
  • Implementation of institutional and international policies for ethical conduct of clinical research.

Visit the CRU webpage at:

The Research Education Unit (REU)

The Research Education Unit (REU) was established to provide Faculty of Medicine (FM) and AUBMC faculty, students, trainees, and staff involved in research with a wide range of resources and educational tools. As such, the REU plays a major role in supporting the institutional vision towards promoting an ethical and innovative research culture. Several programs and workshops are offered by the REU, and they include:

  • Statistics made easy workshop I, II, III
  • How to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • How to get published
  • Development and adaptation of practice guidelines

Visit the REU webpage at:

  • Qualitative research workshop
  • Designing search strategies for systematic reviews

The AUB GRADE Center is one of the centers for the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group. It was started in 2015 to promote and support the use of the GRADE methodology. The aim of the AUB GRADE Center is to provide advocacy, training, and support for guideline development in Lebanon, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and beyond. In addition, the AUB GRADE Center aims to contribute to advancing the methodology of guideline development, with a major focus on the adaption of guidelines. Services offered at the AUB GRADE Center are:

  • Development of guidelines using the GRADE methodology
  • Adaptation of guidelines

Visit the AUB GRADE Center webpage:

  • Provision of educational sessions, graduate courses, and training workshops in guideline development and the GRADE methodology.

Fellowship and Residency Research Program (FRRP)

The Fellowship and Residency Research Program (FRRP) was implemented in 2011/2012 by Drs. Ali Taher and Hani Tamim and is currently directed by Dr. Tamim. It supports post-graduate clinical trainees (residents and fellows) at AUBMC in carrying out a research project throughout their training. Visit the FRRP webpage:


Medical Research Volunteer Program (MRVP)

The Medical Research Volunteer Program (MRVP) is directed by Dr. Bilal Kaafarani and Dr. Hani Tamim. The program matches undergraduate students at AUB interested in medical research experience with clinical and basic science researchers. It targets students interested in becoming involved in the field of medical research early on in their academic career. Visit the MRVP webpage:


The Faculty Advancement Program in Clinical Research (FAP)

The Faculty Advancement Program in Clinical Research (FAP) supports junior faculty members in the Faculty of Medicine in advancing their academic career by providing them with soft and hard skills necessary for clinical researchers.  Visit the FAP webpage:


Nursing Advancement Program (NAP)

The Nursing Advancement Program (NAP), developed in coordination with the Nursing Administration office at AUBMC, aims at training registered nurses at AUBMC in clinical research with the ultimate aim of advancing their clinical research knowledge and supporting their involvement in clinical research projects.


Research Fellow Program (RFP)

The Research Fellow Program (RFP), led by Dr. Marlene Chakhtoura, aims at supporting research fellows at AUBMC in developing their knowledge and skills to conduct medical research projects.

Research Assistant Program

The Research Assistant Program has been developed in collaboration with the Office of the Associate Dean of Clinical and Translational Research and coordination with the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP)/ Institutional Review Board (IRB). The program aims at training research assistants in the proper conduct and management of clinical research.

CRI partners

CRI partners with the following programs at AUB and AUBMC:

  • GES​I: The Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI) aims to develop the capacity of producing and using research synthesis among policy-makers and practitioners in low- and middle-income countries.
  • HRPP​: The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) at AUB is responsible for the development, dissemination, and implementation of the university policies related to human research protection. It assesses the effectiveness and independence of the Institutional Review Boards of AUB, and ensures continuous education for investigators and research staff about the ethical conduct of research.
  • SHARP​: The Scholars in HeAlth Research Program (SHARP) provides graduates with the required foundation to pursue a career in clinical and translational research, focusing on non-communic​able diseases (NCDs). SHARP offers both a certificate and an MSc. Degree in Health Research, both are jointly awarded by the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences at AUB.​
  • SPARK​: The Center for Systematic Reviews on Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK) is a collaborative effort between the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) and the Faculty of Medicine (FM) at AUB. It produces systematic reviews that respond to national and regional health policy and system priority needs.
CRI News
    • Elie Akl, director of the CRI, has been recently named a 2016 Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters. Congratulations Dr. Akl on your contributions to the advancement of scientific discovery and innovation.
    • A special seminar was organized by the CRI in collaboration with the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine entitled: The Journey from Patient to an Emerging Therapy by Dr. Rose-Mary Boustany. Dr. Boustany discussed the new drug (Galactosylceramide) to treat CLN3 gene disease that was recently discovered by her and her team.
    • The final session of our successful Faculty Advancement Program in Clinical Research (FAP) was held on Wednesday June 29, 2016. The top 3 integrated project proposal winners were handed their prizes by Dr. Samia Khoury. The winners are:
      • 1st prize (IPad Air2) – Marlene Chakhtoura, MD
      • 2nd prize – Sahar Koubar, MD
      • 3rd prize – Marina Adra, PhD
    • The AUB GRADE center, directed by Dr. Elie Akl, organized an expert consultation meeting on the adaptation of WHO guidelines to the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The two-day meeting took place on AUB campus, on the 30th and 31st of May 2016, and was in collaboration with the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • Another successful workshop on Designing Search Strategies for Systematic Reviews was conducted by the CRI on May 21, 2016.
    • April 28, 2016 marks the launch of the new Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative (GESI) secretariat at AUB.


Contact Us

For more information about the CRI, its services or events, kindly:

Visit our webpage at

Contact us at

Call us on 01350000 ext. 5445