H3Africa Collaborative Research Center

African Collaborative Center for Microbiome and Genomics Research (ACCME)

The Goal: to investigate the role of the vaginal microbiome in Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) persistence and cervical cancer progression in African women to inform prevention strategies across Africa.

Project Leads

Dr. Clement Adebamowo

Institute of Human Virology Nigeria/ University of Maryland

Dr. Sally Adebamowo

University of Maryland

Dr. Charles Rotimi

National Institutes of Health

The Problem

With correct strategies such as screening and vaccination, cervical cancer caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can be prevented entirely. However, many African women are unable to access screening programs or vaccines, causing this preventable disease to be especially deadly across the contient. By understanding the genomic risk and the role of the vaginal microbiome in persistence of HPV infection and cervical cancer progression, scientists and doctors can develop screening and prevention strategies to identify at-risk individuals and reduce their risk of cervical cancer.

Project Strategy

  1. Enrolling 12,000 women to conduct a number of research studies to better understand the genomic risk and role of the vaginal microenvironment in persistence of high risk Human Papilloma Virus (hrHPV) infection, and the progression of cervical cancer.
  2. Establish state-of-the-art genomic and microbiomes reseach centers across Africa.
  3. Develop, support, and conduct training and capacity development in genomics and microbiome research in Africa.

Outcomes to Date

Through genomic sequencing, ACCME has been able to demonstrate a wide range of associations between genomic variants and the types of bacteria present in the vaginal microbiome, and risk of persistent hrHPV infection and cervical cancer. To understand the full picture of genomic factors, vaginal microbiome, and hrHPV infection and cervical cancer progression, the group is continuing to generate insights into the genomic factors and vaginal microbiome of women with and those without HPV infections. These inslights may enable novel strategies for treatment and prevention of cervical cancer.

Project Sites

A: Nigeria
Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, University of Ibadan, African Univeristy of Science and Technology, National Hospital Abuja, Covenant Univeristy

B: Zambia
Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, University of Zambia

Non-African Collaborators:
USA: Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, Institute of Human Virology and Institute of Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, University of New Mexico
UK: Queen Mary University of London


This work is supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of the Director (OD), and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant number U54HG006947.

Additional Resources