Home > New project seeks to sequence three million genomes across Africa
New project seeks to sequence three million genomes across Africa
11 Feb 2021 - 14:00
Professor Ambroise Wonkam is the president of the African Society of Human Genetics,
a member of the steering committee of Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa)
The Human Genome Project (HGP), according to the National Human Genome Research Institute, was the international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings. First articulated in 1988 the full sequence was published in 2003.
Now, almost two decades later, Africa, which contains more genetic diversity than any other content, remains under-represented in terms of the equity of global medical research. With less than 2% of human genomes analysed so far having been sampled from the continent. As a result, “Too little of the knowledge and applications from genomics have benefited the global south because of inequalities in health-care systems, a small local research workforce and lack of funding,” writes Professor Ambroise Wonkam, deputy dean of research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Together with his colleagues, Wonkam, who leads the African Society of Human Genetics, aims to start the Three Million African Genomes project. This is the proposed response to the identified gap. Because “[a] rough estimate for capturing the full scope of Africa’s genetic variation would require sequencing some three million individuals, carefully selected across Africa to cover ethnolinguistic, regional and other groups.”
Read Wonkam’s commentary published in Nature here.