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NIH awards nearly $75M to catalyze data science research in Africa

New program will establish data science research and training network across the continent.

The National Institutes of Health is investing about $74.5 million over five years to advance data science, catalyze innovation and spur health discoveries across Africa.

Under its new Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa) program, the NIH is issuing 19 awards to support research and training activities. DS-I Africa is an NIH Common Fund program that is supported by the Office of the Director and 11 NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices.

Awards will establish a consortium consisting of a data science platform and coordinating center, seven research hubs, seven data science research training programs and four projects focused on studying the ethical, legal and social implications of data science research. Awardees have a robust network of partnerships across the African continent and in the United States, including numerous national health ministries, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and other academic institutions.

“This initiative has generated tremendous enthusiasm in all sectors of Africa’s biomedical research community,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Big data and artificial intelligence have the potential to transform the conduct of research across the continent, while investing in research training will help to support Africa’s future data science leaders and ensure sustainable progress in this promising field.”