2012 H3Africa Grant Awards

National Human Genome Research Institute

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


2012 H3Africa Grant Award Abstracts

NIH-H3Africa Research Projects

Title: Contribution of genetic variation to pharmacokinetic variability and toxicity in tuberculosis patients
Principal Investigator: Dissou Affolabi
Organization: National Hospital for Tuberculosis and Pulmonary Diseases, Benin

While potent drug treatments are available for tuberculosis (TB), as many as 10 percent of patients are not cured by such treatments, and the cure rate achieved by the treatments is even lower in HIV-infected individuals. While much of the variability to anti-tuberculosis drugs remains unexplained, one likely reason is genetic; in other words that different people respond differently to a drug because of their gene differences. This is known to be the case for other drugs in other diseases. In this study, Dr. Dissou Affolabi and colleagues at the National Hospital for Tuberculosis and Pulmonary Diseases (NHTPD), and partners from the National Tuberculosis program in Senegal, the University Ignace Deen in Guinea, the University of Cape Town (Republic of South Africa), the Medical Research Council in Durban (Republic of South Africa), the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom), will study the role of host genetics in the success of TB treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom), will study the role of host genetics in the success of TB treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.


NIH-H3Africa Collaborative Centers

Title: H3Africa Kidney Disease Research Network Organization
Principal Investigator: Dwomoa Adu
Institution: The University of Ghana Medical School

Renal disease is a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa. 50 million people suffer from pre-dialysis chronic kidney disease, and more than 500,000 individuals are estimated to die annually from renal disease. Research done with non-African populations has identified several genes associated with kidney disease in adults and children. This grant, led by Dr. Dwomoa Adu from the University of Ghana Medical School, will study 8,000 kidney disease patients and unaffected controls using genomic technologies to find whether those genes are also associated with kidney disorders in Africans and whether there are genes that are uniquely associated with kidney disorders in Africans. The project is organized as a collaborative research effort that involves investigators based at 10 institutions in five African countries and four countries outside of Africa. This grant will also establish two genomics research laboratories in Africa and train several African genomics research scientists to study important health problems in Africa.

Title: Genomic and environmental risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases in Africans
Institute: University of the Witwatersrand & National Health Laboratory Service, South Africa
Principal Investigator: Michèle Ramsay
Co-Principal Investigator: Osman Sankoh
Institute: INDEPTH, Ghana

This Wits-INDEPTH H3Africa Collaborative Centre (CC) under the leadership of Drs. Michele Ramsay and Osman Sankoh aims to study the genetic and environmental risk factors for obesity and related cardiometabolic diseases (CMD). It is a partnership between the University of Witwatersrand and the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health (INDEPTH) in low- and middle-income countries, using five INDEPTH member health and demographic surveillance system (HDSS) field sites across four African countries: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya and South Africa, as well as an urban study site in Soweto. The study will begin by examining the genetic architecture of these African populations and will progress to investigate genomic contributions to body fat distribution, considering the relevant environmental and social contexts, in order to contribute to an understanding of cardiometabolic disease susceptibility.


NIH-H3Africa Biorepositories

Title: Development of H3 Africa Biorepositories to facilitate studies on Biodiversity, Disease & Pharmacogenomics of African Populations
Principal Investigator: Akin Abayomi
Institute: National Health Laboratory Services, Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa

This grant supports a two-year pilot effort to establish an H3Africa biorepository that will receive, store and distribute biological research samples obtained in the H3Africa Initiative. This H3 Africa pilot biorepository is directed by Professor Akin Abayomi, from National Health Laboratory Services (Tygerberg Hospital Business Unit) and the Faculty of Medicine of Stellenbosch University in collaboration with South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI), Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR), IFASEMB (Science, Engineering Medicine & Beyond) and the SCRIPPS Research Institute Center for Regenerative Medicine. During the pilot phase, the biorepository team will set up governance, operations and test biorepository protocols for human tissues such as nucleic acids and blood. To achieve the Phase I goal, the biorepository will assess its current practices to identify its strengths and weaknesses, upgrade repository practice and infrastructure and conduct Phase II implementation and quality control tests. At that point, the biorepository's progress will be reviewed and, if the group is found to have made sufficient progress, it will be scaled up to a full-scale H3 Africa biorepository which will be funded for an additional five years. The goals for the Phase II scaled up biorepository will be to build upon the progress made in Phase I: to provide, by the end of 3 years of funding (in both Phase I and II), a fully functioning biorepository capable of receiving and distributing samples from and to African countries utilizing international standards.


Title: IHVN H3Africa Biorepository (I-HAB) Initiative
Principal Investigator: Alash'le G. Abimiku
Institution: Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN)

This grant supports a two-year pilot effort to establish an H3Africa biorepository that will receive, store and distribute biological research samples obtained in the H3Africa Initiative. This H3Africa pilot biorepository is directed by Dr. Alash'le Abimiku, of the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, in partnership with the Corielle Institute for Biomedical Research in the United States. During the pilot phase, the biorepository will assess its current practices to identify strengths and weaknesses, upgrade repository practices and infrastructure to meet the needs of the H3Africa Initiative, advocate for host government and community support, and conduct implementation and quality control tests that will allow it to scale up by the end of the pilot period. At that point, the biorepository's progress will be reviewed and, if the IHVN group is found to have made sufficient progress, it will be scaled up to a full-scale H3Africa biorepository and funded for an additional five years. The goals of the full-scale biorepository will be to operate at international standards that enable them to receive and distribute samples from and to investigators in Africa, and eventually beyond. In doing so, the biorepository will need to develop a high quality collection and storage of primary human biological samples obtained from the H3Africa research projects; develop, implement, manage and support computer tools to support biorepository functions; establish effective administrative governance and Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures; and conduct training and establish best practices in biobanking and biorepository ethics.


NIH-H3Africa Bioinformatics Network

Title: H3ABioNet: a sustainable African Bioinformatics Network for H3Africa
Principal Investigator: Nicola Mulder
Institution: University of Cape Town, South Africa

The goal of this project is to create H3ABioNet, a pan-African bioinformatics network. At the outset, H3ABioNet will include nodes of computational expertise in more than 15 African countries. H3ABioNet will provide a framework for integration of and communication among all of the H3Africa research and resource projects, as well as other sites in Africa that are carrying out genomic/genetic research. The network will provide computational infrastructure and hardware, human resources, tools and computational solutions for genomic and population-based research, and communications among African researchers and other interested parties. These aims will be achieved by providing user support, training and capacity development, research and tools, and outreach and communication. By pooling existing expertise and by providing training in bioinformatics and computational biology for the next generation of researchers, H3ABioNet will build a critical mass in bioinformatics for H3Africa, thereby contributing to the larger goal of the H3Africa Initiative of improving the infrastructure for genomic and population-based research in Africa.


Wellcome Trust-H3Africa Research Projects

Title: Genetics of rheumatic heart disease and molecular epidemiology of streptococcus pyogenes pharyngitis (The RHDGen Network)
Principal Investigator: Bongani Mayosi
Organization: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) results from a harmful response of the immune system to a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A Streptococcus (GAS). Although the development of RHD can be prevented by the treatment of GAS infection with penicillin, this has not been successful in poor countries of Africa. We plan to read the genome of 2,500 people with RHD and compare with 3,500 people without RHD to identify genetic risk factors. It is likely that genetic studies may identify people at high risk for the development of RHD who may be prioritized for preventive treatment and vaccination.


Title: TrypanoGEN: an integrated approach to the identification of genetic determinants of susceptibility to trypanosomiasis
Principal Investigator: Enock Matovu
Organization: Makerere University, Uganda

Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) afflicts tens of thousands in rural sub-Saharan Africa. The study of this important disease has lagged behind, yet improved treatment is urgently needed. The aim of this project is to apply the latest advances in scientific research to HAT and subsequently train the next generation of African scientists to conduct further high-quality research into neglected tropical diseases. Our research strategy will exploit the fact that some people are naturally able to control or even eliminate the parasites. By comparing the genes in resistant and susceptible people we will identify genes/molecular pathways that are crucial in controlling the disease.


Title: Burden, spectrum and etiology of type 2 diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa
Principal Investigator: Albert Amoah
Organization: University of Ghana

In 2010, over 12 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) were estimated to have diabetes. Recent estimates suggest that the prevalence of diabetes in SSA is around 5 percent. However, over the next 20 years, it is predicted that SSA will have the highest growth in the number of people with diabetes of any region in the world-with a doubling of the current prevalence. Thus diabetes is likely to be a major health problem in SSA, competing for limited health resources with infectious diseases. However, in many countries in SSA the burden and risk factors for diabetes is not clear. To help prevent diabetes and treat people with the disease, it is important to understand how many people develop diabetes and what may cause it. We aim to survey people from several countries in SSA to determine what proportion of the population has the disease and what the risk factors may be, including using genetic techniques to identify the causes of diabetes. This information will be important to identify ways to prevent and treat diabetes in Africa.

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Posted: October 8, 2012