Botswana: Government Supports Cafgen in Advancing Dream

Gaborone — Minister of Health and Wellness has applauded the Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN) for advancing Botswana's dream of transforming to a knowledge based economy.

Officially launching CAfGEN study in Gaborone on September 12, Dr Alfred Madigele said through investments made by the organisation comprising four countries, Botswana would lead in the era of precision medicine, which the ministry supported, adding that it further advanced the president's vision of a knowledge-based economy.

CAfGEN is a collaboration between six institutions in four countries and two continents and its mission is to create a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, inter- and intra-country network of African scientists, clinicians and researchers using genomics approaches to study gene-environment interactions for HIV/AIDS, its co-morbidities, and other diseases among diverse pediatric African Populations.

Dr Madigele explained that CAfGEN Phase 1 was completed successfully leading to National Institutes of Health (NIH) extending the grant and increasing the study cohort to over 2 000 children in three countries.

"These are Centres of Excellence in Botswana, eSwatini, Botswana universities, Makerere University in Uganda and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. It is worth mentioning that Botswana through Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence is the coordinator," he said.

Dr Madigele further stated that the study was funded by NIH to the tune of P54.4 million over five years ending in 2022.

To date, CAfGEN has successfully installed NextGen Sequencing equipment at the universities of Botswana and Makerere as well as building supercomputers needed to decode large volumes of data generated.

He said the project supported BioBank at Makerere, introduced genomics education at Masters and PhD levels at both universities.

To date, the universities have enrolled 11 PhD students, with the first candidate successfully defending their thesis at Makerere last week.

Four students pursuing Master of Science (MSc) in Bioinformatics training will be supported fully by CAfGEN.

He noted with gratitude that the 12th PhD trainee from University of Botswana was being trained in Bioethics, an area of critical need in Botswana.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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