Nigeria’s most prominent geneticists and medical research professionals are coming together to promote genomics research and make new drug discoveries

Genetic scientists and researchers at the launch of African Centre for Translational Genomics to facilitate research by African scientists (Twitter/@actginitiative)
  • 54gene launches African Centre for Translational Genomics to facilitate (ACTG) research by African scientists.
  • The Centre will fund its first study under the Non-Communicable Diseases - Genetic Heritage Study (NCD-GHS) Consortium - with over 100,000 Nigerians participating in the eponymous study.
  • Nigeria’s most prominent geneticists and medical research professionals will steer the ACTG for the betterment of the health of Africans from every corner of the continent. 

54gene has announced the launch of the African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG), an initiative established to facilitate translational genomics research by African scientists.

This initiative is the coming together of leading scientists as a welcome development for leveraging talent from across Nigeria to promote genomics research scholarship.

The establishment will also re-invest in the health ecosystem by empowering the next generation of African genomic scientists through the provision and implementation of grants, fellowships, internships, and training for medical researchers, trainees, and students, the company said in a statement released on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020.

According to a 2018 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) report, Nigeria has few medical geneticists and genetic counselors in Nigeria with most genetic disorders’ patients seen by pediatricians.

With this first concerted effort from genetic scientists and researchers, the ACTG will be funding its first study under the Non-Communicable Diseases - Genetic Heritage Study (NCD-GHS) Consortium. The consortium will see over 100,000 Nigerians participate in the eponymous study which will seek to understand the genetic basis of the highly prevalent non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria such as cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, chronic kidney, sickle cell disease, among others.

The consortium will have a steering committee co-led by the Director-General of Nigeria Institute of Medical Research [NIMR], Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, the Director of National Biotechnology Development Agency’s Centre for Genomics Research and Innovation [NABDA-CGRI], Prof Oyekanmi Nash, the CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, Dr. Segun Fatumo, Assistant Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine [LSHTM], and Dr. Omolola Salako, Consultant Oncologist, College of Medicine, University of Lagos [CMUL].

Speaking on the consortium launch, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, said, “In continuation with our belief at 54gene that genetic research in Africa should be ethical and beneficial to the communities we serve, and that African scientists be at the forefront of new drug discoveries that benefit Africans and the world at large; we have set up the ACTG to harness translational genetic research across Africa. The NCD-GHS study is our pilot effort under the ACTG that has the potential to rewrite the playbook of genomics research, where African scientists will be placed at the forefront of new drug discoveries for conditions that affect the health of not only Nigerians but greater Africa and the world.

“Our collaboration with scientists at NIMR and NABDA-CGRI, as a consortium, is a highly welcome initiative which we believe will be a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience for all parties. For 54gene specifically, the opportunity for us to contribute to a broader national agenda for genomics research is both inspiring and humbling, and we are committed to ensuring its success.

Joining Dr. Ene-Obong at the launch of the NCD-GHS Consortium included many of Nigeria’s most prominent geneticists and medical research professionals.

Professor. Babatunde Lawal Salako, Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), added that the consortium will engage senior scientists that have made their mark in the field of cardiometabolic research in teaching hospitals across the country to ensure representativeness and quality.

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