Dr. Halima Bensmail


Dr. Halima Bensmail

Principal Scientist, QCRI

Associate Professor, HBKU

Data Analytics


Dr. Halima Bensmail is Associate Professor at HBKU’s College of Public Health, a Principal Scientist of Biostatistics/Statistics and Computational Biology at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), and founder of the Computational Biology group (CS&E) at QCRI.
Dr. Bensmail's work focuses on developing new machine learning algorithms for solving large-scale and high-dimensional problems for achieving significant biomedical discoveries.
Dr. Bensmail joined QCRI in 2011 while serving as an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia (EVMS) and an Adjunct Faculty member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA.

  • Qatar Computing Research Institute, Doha, Qatar
    Principal Scientist of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, November 2017-present
  • Qatar Computing Research Institute, Doha, Qatar
    Senior Scientist of Computational Biology, CS&E Center, March 2011-November 2017.
  • HBKU, Doha, Qatar
    Adjunct Associate Professor, March 2016-present.
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
    College of Public Health,
    Associate Professor, August 2006-January 2009.
  • University of Tennessee
    Department of Statistics, Operation and Management Sciences (SOMS)
    Associate Professor, April 2005- August 2006
    Assistant Professor, September 2000-April 2005
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    Adjunct Associate Professor, September 2005-August 2006.
  • University Of Leiden, Organization for Scientific Research, The Netherlands.
    Research Scientist, April 1997-September 2000.
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA
    Research Scientist, October 1994-May 1996.
  • University of Washington, Seattle, USA
    PostDoctoral, April 1994-September 1994.
  • Montgeron High School, Paris, France
    Lecturer-Math and Stat, September 1992 – May 1993
  • Monte LaJolie High School, Paris, France
    Lecturer-Math and Stat, September 1991- May 1992.
  • INRIA, Versailles, France
    Research Assistant-Computing, September 1990 – May 1991.
  • La Sorbonne Université, Paris, France
    Computing Assistant, October 1989 – June 1990.

Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Comp. Statistics, Université Pierre and Marie-Curie & INRIA-Paris, 1996
Thesis: Statistics and computing for Models of deterministic and Bayesian Classification and Clustering
Advisor: Dr. Gilles Celeux (INRIA, France) and Adrian Raftery (Univ of Washington, USA)

M.S. in Mathematics and Statistics, Université Pierre and Marie-Curie-Paris, 1991

B.S. in Applied Mathematics, Minor in Statistics, Faculty of Sciences, Rabat, Morocco, 1989

  • R Mall, E Ullah, K Kunji, M Ceccarelli, H Bensmail (2018). An unsupervised disease module identification technique in biological networks using novel quality metric based on connectivity, conductance and modularity. F1000Research 7.
  • E Ullah, R Mall, ….and H Bensmail* (2018). Harnessing Qatar Biobank to Understand Type 2 Diabetes in Adult Qataris. Journal of Translational medicine (to appear).
  • S Khurana, R Rawi, K Kunji, GY Chuang, H Bensmail, R Mall, A Valencia (2018). DeepSol: A Deep Learning Framework for Sequence-Based Protein Solubility Prediction. Bioinformatics 1, 9.
  • R Mall, L Cerulo, L Garofano, V Frattini, K Kunji, H Bensmail, TS Sabedot, ... (2018). RGBM: Regularized gradient boosting machines for identification of the transcriptional regulators of discrete glioma subtypes.Nucleic Acids Research.
  • R Mall, L Cerulo, H Bensmail, A Iavarone, M Ceccarelli (2017).Detection of statistically significant network changes in complex biological networks. BMC systems biology 11 (1), 32-3.
  • E Ullah, R Mall, H Bensmail, R Rawi, S Shama, N Al Muftah, IR Thmpson (2017). Identification of cancer drug sensitivity biomarkers. Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), 2017 IEEE International Conference.
  • R Mall, E Ullah, K Kunji, H Bensmail, M Ceccarelli (2017). An adaptive refinement for community detection methods for disease module identification in biological networks using novel metric based on connectivity, conductance & modularity (2017).Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), 2017 IEEE International Conference.
  • R Mall, E Ullah, K Kunji, F D'Angelo, H Bensmail, M Ceccarelli (2017). Differential Community Detection in Paired Biological Networks. Proceedings of the 8th ACM International Conference on Bioinformatics.
  • A Baggag, H Bensmail, J Srivastava (2017).Advanced Computation of Sparse Precision Matrices for Big Data. Pacific-Asia Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, 27-38.
  • R Mall, R Rawi, E Ullah, K Kunji, A Khadir, A Tiss, J Abubaker, M Dehbi and H Bensmail* (2017). Application of High-Dimensional Statistics and Network based Visualization techniques on Arab Diabetes and Obesity data. Journal of Medical Health Informatics.
  • Reda et al. and H Bensmail *(2016). Couscous: Improved structural residue-residus contact prediction using an Empirical Bayes Covariance estimator. BMC Bioinformatics (accepted).
  • Simone, W. Hendrickx, L. Miller, H Bensmail, E. Wang, F. Marincola, M. Ceccarelli, and D. Bedognetti. Toward the identification of genetic determinants of breast cancer immune responsiveness. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. doi: 10.1186/2051-1426-3-S1-P1
For other research see her Google Scholar page

Professional Memberships:

  • Office of Naval Research Award, Seattle, 1994
  • French Graduate Fellowship, 1993
  • Best contribution Award at the Information Complexity and Statistical High dimensional data (IC-SMHD16), 2016.
  • Best Paper Award in Computing, ARC2011, Qatar Foundation, 2011
  • University of Tennessee Summer Award (CBA Scholarship for excellence in Research) 2006-2009.
  • Best Paper Award at the International Federation of Classification Societies (IFCS), 1998.

For Dr Halima's HBKU courses slides, click here.