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Africa-Europe CoRE-GHA Consortium experts convene at SU to advance genomic research
Author: CERI Media and Communication
Published: 23/01/2024

​The Cluster of Research Excellence in Genomics for Health in Africa (CoRE-GHA) consortium recently gathered at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Tygerberg campus for its first in-person meeting on January 16 and 17, 2024. This marked a significant step forward in fostering collaborative genomic research across continents, setting the stage for dynamic collaboration and promising advancements in health research.

Initiated by The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild), the Africa-Europe CoRE project officially launched on June 19, 2023.  The  CoRE Genomics for Health in Africa  is co-led by Prof Tulio de Oliveira, Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) and Prof Shahida Moosa, Head of Medical Genetics at Tygerberg Hospital and SU, together with Prof Carmen Faso and Prof Volker Thiel from the University of Bern in Switzerland, and Prof Olaf Riess and Dr Tobias Haack from the University of Tübingen in Germany.

De Oliveira emphasized the importance of the meeting, stating: "it is important to meet and strategize on how we will be using genomics to revolutionize public health in Africa and Europe. Together, we can benefit from the large term experience of Africa dealing with infectious diseases and Europe with advancing personalized medicine".

The recent meeting focused on critical aspects of consortium development, with the establishment of working groups tasked with fundraising, matchmaking, website content creation, and the development of teaching materials. CoRE-GHA's specific areas of emphasis include rare diseases, cancers, pandemic preparedness, and infectious diseases. This strategic approach sets the stage for dynamic collaboration and promising advancements in genomic research for the benefit of public health in both Africa and Europe.

Faso, co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases at University of Berm, highlighted the collaboration's mutual benefits. "This collaboration is for the benefit of both people in Europe and in Africa. These two days are fundamental in ensuring a sustainable consortium and innovative ideas."

Riess, who heads the largest human genomics facility at Tübingen University in Germany, stressed the significance of joining forces with Africa. "It is important for us to join forces with Africa and ensure the sustainability of this collaboration. By doing so, we are increasing capacity and expanding on our rare diseases knowledge base for both Europe and Africa."

Moosa expressed excitement about advancing genomics for health, stating: "We are very excited and geared up to advance genomics for health. This cluster focuses specifically on Rare Disease and Cancer genomics, and finding genome-based solutions for Precision Medicine. This is the start of a promising journey unlocking the African genome to optimize health for ALL on the continent."

This was the first time this meeting was held at SU, and it was attended by senior scientific leaders from the Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and Kenyan Universities. Participants in this inaugural meeting included representatives from Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Nairobi, SU, University of Glasgow, the University of Bern, and the University of Tübingen. Other universities involved in this consortium include University of Ghana, University of Rwanda and University of Groningen. This meeting signifies a crucial step forward in utilizing genomics to revolutionize public health in Africa and Europe, emphasizing a promising journey towards a healthier future for all.​