The Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) initiative is a partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, the Wellcome Trust (WT) in the United Kingdom, and the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG). This initiative aims to create and support the development of the necessary expertise among African scientists, as well as a network of African cohorts, to facilitate a contemporary research approach to the study of the environmental and genetic determinants of common diseases among African peoples. The studies, to be conducted by African researchers, will utilize genetic, clinical, and epidemiologic screening tools to identify hereditary and nonhereditary components that contribute to the risk of illness.
The H3Africa Communicable Diseases and the Noncommunicable Diseases Working Groups developed a white paper to present to the NIH and the WT, with input from the international scientific community. The Terms of Reference for the Working Groups were to (1) review relevant current epidemiologic, clinical, bioinformatic, and genomic research activities in Africa; (2) identify and scientifically justify the study of diseases, starting with a pilot phase; (3) identify African leaders and institutions that can participate in the H3Africa network; (4) indicate how interactions among African geneticists, clinicians, bioinformaticians, and technology providers will be facilitated; (5) formulate a timetable and a mechanism for developing guidelines for data sharing and sample sharing; (6) begin to address the ethical, legal, and social issues relevant to H3Africa; and (7) consider how to improve on the infrastructure and human capacity in African epidemiologic and genomic studies.
The primary goal of this conference is to assemble H3Africa stakeholders to discuss recommendations contained in the H3Africa white paper, which was composed by African scientists and scientists who have worked extensively in Africa and serve on one of the two H3Africa Working Groups. During the conference, members of the Working Groups will lead discussions on various elements of the white paper; a forum will be provided for African and international scientists to express their views of the recommendations in the white paper. The stakeholders will include members of the Working Groups, other key African scientists and institutional leaders, representatives of funding agencies (NIH, WT, and potentially others), and international scientists.