ISCB Africa ASBCB Conference on Bioinformatics 2017


Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Senior lecturer
Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion
Muhimbili University, Tanzania

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Theme Leader, Animal Health
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)
Nairobi, Kenya

Towards elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs): Leaving genomics behind?

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CSO, VP Scientific Affairs
Génome Québec

Open Data is Essential for Genomics

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Group Leader

Human Genetics
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI)
Professor of Human Genetics
University of Cambridge
United Kingdom

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Dr. Julie Makani is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow and Senior lecturer in the Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion at Muhimbili University, the main clinical, academic and research centre in Tanzania. Tanzania aims to develop excellence in genomic medicine to address some of the fundamental issues limiting research and healthcare in Africa. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is recognised as a ‘perfect model’ to test the paradigm of translating genome-based knowledge into health benefits because it is a monogenic disorder with considerable phenotypic variation and causes a significant burden of disease. Tanzania has recognised SCD as a major public health problem. With support from Wellcome Trust, Muhimbili has established a framework for research, which is integrated into providing healthcare and training biomedical scientists. Tanzania intends to use SCD as a model to establish scientific and technological solutions that are locally relevant but have global significance. Achieving success in SCD will illustrate that with effective global partnerships, significant advances in health and advancement in biomedical science can be achieved.

Dr. Makani trained in Medicine at Muhimbili and completed her postgraduate training in Internal Medicine in the UK. She undertook her PhD in SCD, acquiring critical clinical-epidemiological skills. She is a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and a research fellow, Oxford University. In 2009 she was awarded the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship for promoting excellence in biomedical science in Africa. She received the 2011 Royal Society Pfizer Award in recognition of her work in using anaemia in SCD as a model of translating genetic research into health benefit.

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Dan Masiga’s research focus is on tropical infectious diseases, which began with African trypanosomes, the subject of his doctoral studies, but extended to malaria and NTDs. He has led projects in these fields, and aims to use generic subjects such as genomics and bioinformatics to advance new knowledge, and develop tools that reduce the impact of tropical diseases. He sees his biggest contribution to science being to mentor young African scientists in the life sciences, and enabling them to take leadership roles in shaping the role of S&T in Africa's development. He is a previous president of ASBCB, and leader of the H3ABioNET node at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology.
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B.F. Francis Ouellette has recently (February 2017) started a new position as the Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of Scientific affairs at Génome Québec, a not-for-profit organization that supports Genomics in Québec. Before that, Francis was the associate director of the Informatics and Biocomputing platform and a senior scientist at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) in Toronto, Ontario. Before his move to Toronto in 2007, Francis was an Associate Professor in the department of Medical Genetics at UBC, and Director of the UBC Bioinformatics Centre (UBiC) at the Michael Smith Laboratories. Francis was trained at McGill University (undergraduate and graduate studies), as well as the University of Calgary, McGill University and Simon Fraser University (graduate studies). After working on the yeast genome sequencing project at McGill University, he took a position at the NCBI as GenBank coordinator from 1993 to 1998. Francis also still holds a position of Associate Professor in the department of Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Toronto.

His work at the OICR involved bioinformatics training, as well as biocuration and management of cancer genomic data. He continues his bioinformatics training work with at Génome Québec. Since his work at the NIH, coordinating the largest Open DNA sequence database in the World (GenBank), Francis has been dedicated to ensuring openness of Science: the data it generates, and the publications that report them. Not only through his work, but on the various advisory boards and editorial boards he serves on: PLOS Computational Biology Education Editor; Associate Editor for DATABASE, an OUP Open Access journal; a number of NIH-funded Open Source and Open Data resource projects: The Saccharomyces Genome Database SAB member, the Galaxy Project SAB member, The GenomeSpace advisory member; the Human Microbiome Project advisory member. Francis is also on the Elixir-Europe SAB as well as a co-chair of the H3ABionet SAB.

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Prof. Soranzo is a human geneticist working in the field of human complex trait genetics. Her research focuses on the application of large-scale genomic analysis to unravel the spectrum of human genetic variation associated with cardiometabolic and immune diseases, and its interaction with non-genetic and environmental cues. Prof. Soranzo graduated in biological sciences at the University of Milano, Italy, with a dissertation on population and evolutionary genetics. She later obtained a PhD in genetics from the University of Dundee, and undertook post-doctoral training in human population and statistical genetics at University College London, conducting applied and methodological work in evolutionary genetics and association studies. In 2005 Prof. Soranzo joined the Pharmacogenomics Department at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development (Raritan, USA). In 2007 she joined the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and since 2009 she has led her own team. In 2015 she was additionally appointed as Professor of Human Genetics at the School of Clinical Medicine of the University of Cambridge. Furthermore, Prof. Soranzo is a member of the Cambridge University Platelet Biology and Cardiovascular groups, the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit in Donor Health and Genomics and the EU BLUEPRINT and EpiGeneSys projects. She serves in several steering committees and scientific advisory boards, and is on the editorial board for the European Journal of Human Genetics, Genome Medicine, Trends in Genetics, and Molecular Biology and Evolution.
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