Bioinformatics Education-Perspectives and Challenges out of Africa

H3ABioNet Consortium, H3Africa Consortium, Ozlem Tastan Bishop*, Ezekiel F. Adebiyi, Ahmed M. Alzohairy, Dean Everett, Kais Ghedira, Amel Ghouila, Judit Kumuthini, Nicola J. Mulder, Sumir Panji, Hugh-G. Patterton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The discipline of bioinformatics has developed rapidly since the complete sequencing of the first genomes in the 1990s. The development of many high-throughput techniques during the last decades has ensured that bioinformatics has grown into a discipline that overlaps with, and is required for, the modern practice of virtually every field in the life sciences. This has placed a scientific premium on the availability of skilled bioinformaticians, a qualification that is extremely scarce on the African continent. The reasons for this are numerous, although the absence of a skilled bioinformatician at academic institutions to initiate a training process and build sustained capacity seems to be a common African shortcoming. This dearth of bioinformatics expertise has had a knock-on effect on the establishment of many modern high-throughput projects at African institutes, including the comprehensive and systematic analysis of genomes from African populations, which are among the most genetically diverse anywhere on the planet. Recent funding initiatives from the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust are aimed at ameliorating this shortcoming. In this paper, we discuss the problems that have limited the establishment of the bioinformatics field in Africa, as well as propose specific actions that will help with the education and training of bioinformaticians on the continent. This is an absolute requirement in anticipation of a boom in high-throughput approaches to human health issues unique to data from African populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
JournalBriefings in bioinformatics
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Keywords

  • bioinformatics education
  • bioinformatics in Africa
  • postgraduate program
  • MEDICAL-EDUCATION

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