Human Heredity and Health in Africa: Speaker Biographies

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Announcement of the H3Africa Project
by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust

Speaker Biographies

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Francis Collins
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was sworn in as the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on August 17, 2009. A physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, he served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the NIH from 1993-2008. This remarkable international project culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. In addition to his achievements as the NHGRI director, Dr. Collins' own research laboratory has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for type 2 diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Dr. Collins received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University, and an M.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 and the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed on scientists by the U.S. Government, in 2009.



Sir Mark Walport, M.D.
Sir Mark Walport, M.D., is director of the Wellcome Trust, which funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million ($888 million) each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. Before joining the Trust he was professor of medicine and head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London. His own research career focused on the immunology and genetics of rheumatic diseases. He is a board member of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), UK Research Base Funder's Forum, Health Innovation Council and the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology. He is also a member of a number of international advisory bodies, including the Grand Challenges in Global Health Scientific Board and the Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. He chaired the Academic Careers Sub-Committee of the UKCRC and Modernising Medical Careers which reported in 2005. More recently, at the request of the prime minister and secretary of state for justice, he co-chaired with the information commissioner an independent review on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors. In early 2010 he completed chairing an expert group on science and learning supporting the delivery of the UK Government's Science and Society Strategy. He received a knighthood in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to medical research.


Charles Rotimi
Charles N. Rotimi, Ph.D., is a senior investigator in the Inherited Disease Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also is director of the NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH), whose mission is to advance research into the role of culture, lifestyle, genetics and genomics in health disparities. Dr. Rotimi develops genetic epidemiology models and conducts population genetics research that explores the patterns and determinants of common complex diseases in the African diaspora and other human populations. A key focus of Dr. Rotimi's research is understanding the triangular relationship between obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, which together account for more than 80% of the health disparity between African Americans and European Americans. Genetic epidemiology models developed by his group are helping to address whether high disease rates are the result of exposure to environmental risk factors, genetic susceptibility, or an interaction between the two. Dr. Rotimi holds an M.P.H. and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.



Bongani Mayosi
Bongani M. Mayosi, D.Phil., is professor of medicine and head of the Department of Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, South Africa. He qualified in medicine from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and trained in internal medicine and cardiology in Cape Town before proceeding to the University of Oxford where he was the Nuffield Oxford Medical Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine from 1998 to 2001. His research interests include genetic determination of cardiovascular traits, treatment of tuberculous pericarditis and the prevention of rheumatic fever. He was awarded South Africas highest honor, the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver), by President Jacob Zuma in November 2009 for services to medical science.


Sekou Traore
Sékou F. Traoré, Ph.D., is a member of the Department of Fundamental Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine Pharmacy and Dentistry, University of Mali. He also is director of the Malaria Research and Training Center Entomology/ Mali ICER (International Center for Excellence in Research). He is a specialist in entomology and control of vector-borne diseases in developing countries and has worked extensively in Mali and in other countries in Africa. His current research involves field and laboratory studies on malaria, leishmaniasis, filariasis and recurrent tick-born fevers. Additional research lines involve interdisciplinary studies on vector-borne diseases in both urban and rural environments, development and field-testing improved methods for malaria vector control. He received his Ph.D. in medical entomology from the Institut Superieur en Recherche Appliquée in Bamako, Mali.


Eric Green
Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), acting scientific director of the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research and senior investigator in the Genome Technology Branch. Dr. Green's research program focuses on the application of large-scale DNA sequencing to studying problems in human genomics, genetics and biology. He has a fundamental interest in applying contemporary genomic technologies to diverse areas of biomedical research. All of Dr. Green's research projects are performed in partnership with NIH Intramural Sequencing Center. He earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.



Pat Goodwin
Pat Goodwin, Ph.D., is head of Pathogens, Immunology and Population Studies at the Wellcome Trust. She obtained her Ph.D. (microbial biochemistry) from the University of Southampton. During her doctorate she investigated the metabolism of one-carbon compounds by Methylobacterium extorquens AM1 (then known as Pseudomonas AM1) and she continued to research into the biochemistry and genetics of methylotrophs until she joined Wellcome Trust in 1990. During her time at the Trust Dr. Goodwin has managed the Molecular and Cell Panel, the Infection and Immunity Panel and the Functional Genomics Development Panel. She now has overall responsibility for two funding streams - Immunology and Infectious Disease and Populations and Public Health.

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Last Updated: July 31, 2012