H3Africa PI: Kidist Bobosha
Institution: Addis Ababa
Project Affiliation: TB Genetics Network in Africa
Africa, a place with huge genomic diversity, lags behind in genomics research and couldn’t be able to use its genomic resources. With the cost of sequencing becoming relatively cheaper, and availability of funding platforms, countries including Ethiopia have now managed to establish sequencing facilities. The Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) has become the first institute in Ethiopia to establish a WGS facility.
Since then, AHRI has managed sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, SARS-CoV2 and Plasmodium falciparum. The TBGEN Africa project, supported through the H3Africa, has created a platform to establish related capacity and played a major role in achieving one of its goals of strengthening genomics and bioinformatics capacity in Africa through building competence at AHRI and partner institutions in genomic sequencing, infrastructure management, genomic data management, metadata capturing and handling, and bioinformatics analyses. Graduating with a Computer Science degree and later in Information Science and Systems, I worked as software developer, analyst and development manager. In the meantime, I joined AHRI, as a data manager of TBGEN project, where I have been responsible for handling genomic and all related data of paired samples from the Mtb pathogen and the human host. I have been responsible for developing and managing metadata capturing tools and databases, developing inhouse laboratory management system and bioinformatic analyses pipelines and managing the bioinformatics dedicated infrastructure. Joining the TBGEN project also helped me harness the available opportunity on bioinformatics training organized by different institutions. . Procurement of equipment and reagents, access to relevant tailored training programs and getting good caliber with linux system administration, and limited bioinformatics training and skills were some of the challenges faced in the process. Despite existing challenges, leveraging and blending the available, fragmented and diverse skill sets in consorted platforms like the TBGEN-Africa demonstrates that such efforts could provide insights in strengthening the capacity of African institutions on genomics and bioinformatics research.