Victor Jongeneel, director of the High-Performance Biological Computing (HPCBio) program and affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, is a key participant in a grant awarded by the Human Heredity and Health in Africa Initiative, or H3Africa, to establish a pan-continental bioinformatics network to aid research. Founded in June 2010, H3Africa is a joint initiative of the African Society of Human Genetics, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Wellcome Trust, a UK based charity organization, to "study genetic diversity in health and disease in African populations." The grant will dispense approximately $2 million dollars per year for five years to cover travel, training, and technical support.
"This is a great opportunity for African bioinformaticians to be confronted with real and relatively large scale data," Jongeneel said. "The research projects are going to generate all sorts of very interesting data sets. I think that this project could really be a catalyst to develop capability in bioinformatics on the African continent anchored in good research."
Jongeneel's project, which is led by Nicola ("Nicky") Mulder of the University of Cape Town and involves many research groups across the continent, is known as the H3ABioNet. It will serve to aggregate and analyze large datasets, establish collaborations among preexisting bioinformatics centers, and train African students and scientists in bioinformatics.
"We've committed to make trainers available for everything that has to do with applying high performance computing techniques to the analysis of biological data, to helping with the installation of HPC devices, and, if they have trouble processing a large data set because they don't have sufficient infrastructure, we've committed to doing it here," he said.
By harnessing the existing structures of the African Bioinform
|Contact: Nicholas Vasi|
Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign