Boosting Africa's capacity in genomics and bioinformatics

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The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine to impart genomics and bioinformatics skills to public health scientists from 12 African countries during an intensive hands-on training workshop held on 6–17 May 2024 at the ILRI Nairobi campus.

Genomics and bioinformatics are useful tools for pathogen surveillance, enabling public health scientists to rapidly detect and identify disease-causing organisms and thus respond to disease outbreaks in a timely manner to save lives and avert economic losses.

The ILRI genomics platform, headed by molecular biologist Samuel Oyola, is one of Africa’s centres of genomic excellence.

The platform has invested in state-of-the-art genomic infrastructure comprising four Illumina machines: NextSeq2000, NextSeq550 and two MiSeqs. Besides Illumina, the platform also runs Oxford Nanopore technology and is in the process of expanding genomic technologies to include Ion Torrent, PacBio GeneMind and MGI.

The data generated from these high-throughput machines are transmitted to ILRI’s high performance computing clusters for data analysis, interpretation and visualization.

ILRI is using this robust platform to develop universal genomic tools that can be used in medicine and agriculture.

Photo: Pipetting in ILRI’s biosciences laboratories (ILRI/David White)

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