H3ABioNet: A Sustainable African Bioinformatics Network for H3Africa

Principal Investigator: Nicola Mulder

University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Scientific Description: H3ABioNet aims to create a sustainable African Bioinformatics Network to support H3Africa researchers through the development of bioinformatics capacity on the continent. Specifically, it aims to: 1) engage with the H3Africa Consortium, providing a framework for integration and communication amongst its members to ensure progress towards the common goal of full exploitation of our genomic and environmental resources for translation into improved health in Africa; 2) develop a core bioinformatics infrastructure (hardware and human resources) to aid research in genomic medicine, high throughput biology, systems biology, genetics, and medicine, for the study of human heredity and health; S) develop tools and bioinformatics solutions appropriate for exploitation and interpretation of biological information in Africa, and make these more accessible to H3Africa researchers; 4) develop research partnerships and promote interaction between bioinformaticians, clinicians, molecular geneticists and ethics researchers to ensure integrative research into health issues in Africa; 5) develop the bioinformatics capacity of people in Africa to empower them to perform cutting edge research, and to ensure retention of bioinformatics skills on the continent; 6) facilitate secure, high-fidelity storage and management of data generated within the H3Africa framework and their deposition in public databases, so that maximum value can be derived from these data; and 7) ensure that the increasing amount of information from genomic analyses and high-throughput molecular biology is accessible to all H3Africa researchers, to promote health research, scientific progress and global competitiveness in Africa. These aims will be achieved through four major activities: user support, training and capacity development, research and tools, and outreach and communication. These activities will result in a bioinformatics support structure, continuous specialized training for bioinformaticians and researchers, development and accessibility of new tools appropriate for the African setting, and a framework for communication flow within the H3Africa Consortium. Through the pooling of existing expertise and training of the next generation of researchers, we will build critical mass in bioinformatics for H3Africa.

Lay Description: The goal of this project is create H3ABioNet, a pan-African bioinformatics network. At the outset, H3ABioNet will include nodes of computational expertise in more than 15 African countries. H3ABioNet will provide a framework for integration of and communication among all of the H3Africa research and resource projects, as well as other sites in Africa that are carrying out genomic/genetic research. The network will provide computational infrastructure and hardware, human resources, tools and computational solutions for genomic and population-based research, and communications among African researchers and other interested parties. These aims will be achieved by providing user support, training and capacity development, research and tools, and outreach and communication. By pooling existing expertise and by providing training in bioinformatics and computational biology for the next generation of researchers, H3ABioNet will build a critical mass in bioinformatics for H3Africa, thereby contributing to the larger goal of the H3Africa Initiative of improving the infrastructure for genomic and population-based research in Africa.