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.