Novel genomic techniques and tools are opening new opportunities for public health research in Africa. Cost reductions and technical advances have made it easier to decode and digitally archive DNA, making genomic data available through large public database to researchers around the world. This is changing how research is done and enabling rapid collaborations in emergency situations – for example, free and open access to the SARS-CoV-2 viral sequences enabled the rapid development of COVID diagnostic kits and vaccines.
These advances are furthered by innovative bioinformatic analysis methods and emerging breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Other technological developments, such as machine learning, are expanding the areas of application and amplifying the creative potential made possible from global open access to Digital Sequence Information (DSI).
However, while DSI is generated and used by researchers all around the world, there are significant inequalities in the capacity to leverage its potential. A range of issues, including costs of products, infrastructure limitations, limited bioinformatics training and career development opportunities, underpin unequal access and use of these revolutionary tools.
The New Public Health Order calls for investments to increase institutional capacity, to support African-led research and innovation, and to promote partnerships for public health in Africa. Building capacity to leverage new genomic techniques and genomic data is core to the ability of African researchers to deliver on this agenda. The event will showcase research projects in Africa that are using DSI and discuss the challenges and constraints they face, with a view of offer recommendations to participants for capacity building in critical areas.
Time: 23 November 2023 at 5:00pm Central European Time / 6:00pm Central African Time, online only
Location: Third Conference on Public Health in Africa, Lusaka, Zambia.