SADaCC

Prof. Wonkam is a Professor of medical genetics, Director of GeneMAP (Genetic Medicine of African Populations) at the Faculty of Health Sciences University of Cape Town, South Africa. After a MD training from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon), he completed a thesis in Cell Biology in the department of Morphology , University of Geneva (Switzerland) and a PhD in Human Genetics (University of Cape Town South Africa). Other salient aspects of Prof Wonkam’s background include his education as a medical geneticist at a highly reputable genetics department in Geneva (Switzerland). He subsequently practices medical genetics in both European and African contexts. His research interests and international recognition by the academic community are reflected in > 170 peer-reviewed publications which are in molecular, clinical, educational and ethical aspects of medical and human genetics. His research focuses on 1) Psychosocial Burden and Genomics modifiers of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) 2) Genetics of hearing loss and 3) Ethical and educational Issues in human genetics in Africa

Prof. Wonkam has been investigating numerous monogenic conditions of High burden in Africa, e.g. Sickle cell disease and inheritable hearing Impairment in Africa with focus on the use of genetics in public health intervention. He has introduced the practice of prenatal genetic diagnosis of SCD in both Cameroon and South Africa (Cape Town). He has a traceable record of studying psychosocial burden of SCD and genomic factors that affect the SCD phenotype, specifically studying HbF-promoting loci and co-inheritance of SCD and alpha-thalassemia in Cameroon and genomic variants affecting Kidney Dysfunctions. Prof. Wonkam was the principal investigator (PI) of a NIH funded H3Africa grant aiming to examine ethical issues relating to sickle cell genomics research in Cameroon, Tanzania and Ghana. Since 2017, we established the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center (SADaCC) to support the activities of the Sickle Pan African Research Consortium (SPARCo) site in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana.

Prof. Mulder heads the Computational Biology Division at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and is a full member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine. She leads H3ABioNet, a large Pan African Bioinformatics Network of 28 institutions in 17 countries, which aims to develop bioinformatics capacity to enable genomic data analysis on the continent. H3ABioNet has developed an extensive training program for African researchers. She also co-leads a Sickle Cell Disease Data Coordinating Centre and a Wellcome Trust Centre Data Integration Platform at UCT. She received her PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of Cape Town and then worked for 8.5 years at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, as a Team Leader. At UCT her research focuses on genetic determinants of susceptibility to disease, African genome variation, and microbial genomics and infectious diseases from both the host and pathogen perspectives. Her group provides bioinformatics services and training and develops new algorithms and resources for the analysis of complex African genetic data. Prof Mulder is actively involved in capacity development, including training, education and curriculum development in Bioinformatics. She also sits on a number of international scientific advisory boards.

Dr. Nembaware was officially appointed as the Project Manager for SADaCC in November 2017 and is the outgoing H3Africa training coordinator. She earned her first degree in Chemistry and Microbiology from the University of Cape Town and then graduated Cum Laude for her Hons and MSc degrees from the University of Western Cape (South African Bioinformatics Institute). Vicky was awarded a PhD in Bioinformatics in 2008 from the University of Cape Town.

In addition to her didactic training in Bioinformatics and Monitoring and Evaluation, Vicky has research experience in Bioinformatics and in the Public Health field. She also has experience in designing, monitoring and evaluation of projects in the Information Communication Technology field (particularly in mHealth). Vicky has conducted numerous mHealth projects which include a public participatory project in the development of the South African National Strategic Plan on AIDS, TB and HIV (2012-2015). To this end, she is developing a mobile phone app in collaboration with members of the H3Africa consortium which is aimed primarily to train researchers how to engage and educate the general public on heredity and health in Africa. "...I am passionate about evidence based training and mentoring of the next generation of African health researchers..."

Mr. Jonas's background in Bioinformatics, multi-disciplinary in nature, serves him well in supporting the research and functioning of SADaCC in particular and the SickleInAfrica Consortium in general. He finds satisfaction in enabling his colleagues to focus on their areas of expertise and he is passionate about capacity building and teaching.

Prof. Emile R. Chimusa (BSc, MSc, Ph.D.), leads the Medical Population Genetics and Genetics Epidemiology Group at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is a mathematical population geneticist whose main focus of research is on methodologies of improvement in the analysis of large-scale genomic studies such as genome-wide association, fine-mapping studies, admixture mapping, genetics of mixed ancestry populations and analysing genome wide patterns of variation within and between species to address fundamental questions in biology, anthropology, and medicine.

He is the director of the Medical Sciences BSc Honours program in Human Genetics and Forensic Genetics in the Division of Human Genetics, Department of Pathology at the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences. This honours program attracts more than 300 international and national graduate students per year, including a number from across Africa.

He holds a C2 rating from the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), which offers me local recognition as an established researcher with a sustained recent record of productivity in my field of biomedical data sciences. He is affiliated with the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and was selected since 2018 as a Future Leader at the Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum, Japan) in recognition of my research in the field of biomedical data sciences and bioinformatics over the past 5 years.

His research group focuses on developing and apply statistical and computational methods to understand the genetic architecture of (non-) communicable diseases. He has organized various workshops and co-organized events on Big Data, Analytics and Machine. He has developed various genomics tools for post genome-wide association (such as ancGWAS, PROXYANC), risk prediction and genomics simulations (FractalSIM), Gene Ontology semantic similarity-based functional analysis tool (A-DaGO-Fun), unified and integrative human protein-protein (PPI) networks (IHP-PING).

Ms. Stewart is a Public Health and Epidemiology graduate, with years of experience in data management and analysis. She leads the Data Management Team at the Clinical Research Centre in Cape Town.

Professor Andre Pascal Kengne is a medical doctor and internist from the School of Medicine of Yaounde in Cameroon; and holds a PhD in medicine from the Sydney University, Australia. He is the current Director of South African Medical Research Council?s Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, and holds conjoint appointments as Professor at the Department of the Department of Medicine of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

His areas of research include chronic diseases epidemiology and prevention in developing countries, decision making in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He has a solid background on longitudinal studies methodologies, both interventional and observational, as well as related statistical methods. He has practiced Medicine in Africa, lectured and mentored on issues relating to chronic diseases and conducted research on those conditions at very high level both in Africa and at the global level. He is co-author of over 450 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and monographs on chronic diseases in Africa and at the global level. He has received several distinctions during his career as a researcher, and is member of may international experts and working groups.

Nchangwi is interested in ethical and social issues in health research. She is currently involved in research related to the equitable governance of global health research consortia. Key areas: Justice, fairness and equity in health research.

Dr. Mazandu is a researcher crossing between Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics and Bioinformatics, which, over time, has provided me with the ability to contribute to the overall expansion of the skills base in computational sciences and biotechnology. He has gained valuable experience and ideal skills in several aspects of bioinformatics, machine learning and artificial intelligence applied to health sciences. Currently, he is holding a senior lecturer position under the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center (SADaCC), as a lead system developer, at University of Cape Town, in the division of Human Genetics under the department of Pathology and my research interest includes Translational Bioinformatics and Epidemiology, Computational Systems Biology, Comparative and Functional Genomics, Biological Ontology and Machine Learning, as well as Intelligence Artificial. His current research focuses on integrating large scale biological and statistical data to analyze factors that contribute to disease transmission dynamics in human populations at epidemiological and molecular levels. His expertise includes bioinformatics tool development, large scale data analysis, statistical and mathematical modelling, and machine learning techniques. He has developed and published several models and tools, including disease ontologies, biological ontology semantic metrics, local ancestry inference and learning algorithms for classification.

Dr. Mnika obtained her Ph.D. in Human Genetics in 2020. She has already published three manuscripts as a first author and four manuscripts as a co-author in high-impact journals. Her Ph.D. project is entitled;"Pharmacogenomics of Sickle Cell Disease: Pain and Drug metabolism associated Gene Variants” and hydroxyurea induced post-transcriptional expression of miRNAs in an African cohort. This study is necessary to assist in gaining a better understanding of genetic variants affecting the predisposition to specific complications such as stroke and acute chest syndrome and polymorphisms affecting susceptibility to pain as well as the pharmacogenomics of commonly prescribed treatments such as hydroxyurea, malaria prophylaxis and pain medication for future precision medicine in sickle cell disease. Currently, she is a registered Senior Medical Scientist at the National Health Laboratory Services(NHLS) In the Human Genetics division.

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