October 13, 2016
Driven by the need for a tool to address African genomic diversity, Illumina was selected to develop an array for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) by the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, a partnership between NIH, the African Society of Human Genetics, and Wellcome Trust. H3Africa will use the new array to foster genomic and epidemiological research to improve the health of people in Africa.
According to Dr. Zané Lombard, co-chair of the H3Africa Genome Analysis Working Group, H3Africa seeks to empower African researchers with leading-edge genomics tools to study environmental and genetic factors that play a role in disease susceptibility and drug responses. Dr. Lombard shared that until recently, most studies examining genetic risk factors for disease have focused on Europeans. Only in the past decade have researchers begun to make meaningful progress in understanding the genomics of Africa, the most genetically diverse region in the world.
This 2.5M African-specific GWAS array and extensive African-enriched reference panel will be available for all interested researchers. H3Africa is hopeful that effective immediately, grant applicants for related research will consider incorporating this array in their studies. The community hopes that a standardized research platform will power additional discovery.
“A substantial and ongoing investment of resources is needed for Africans and people of African ancestry to benefit from advances in genomic and precision medicine. Investing in genomic research in Africa will benefit everyone, given that all modern humans originated in Africa 200,000 years ago,” shared Adebowale Adeyemo, MD, Deputy Director of the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH) at the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health and co-chair of the H3Africa Genome Analysis Working Group.
With novel, genome-wide content from individuals across African populations, the H3Africa Consortium Array1 is designed to be the most effective array to date for the study of African Genomics. H3Africa data will inform strategies to address health inequity and will lead to health benefits in Africa and beyond.
H3Africa’s vision and collaborative effort has resulted in this cost-effective, unprecedented African-enriched genotyping array. This achievement was accomplished by the coordination of researchers from dozens of African nations, in partnership with The NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, H3ABioNet, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Illumina, University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center and others.
1 NIH provides funding to H3Africa as part of the Common Fund Global Health. NIH provides funding to H3Africa as part of the Common Fund Global Health initiative; the use of any company, commercial product and/or service by H3Africa grantees does not imply endorsement by NIH.