We are honoured to announce the 11th Conference of the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG) that will be held jointly with the H3Africa Consortium and in collaboration with the Rwandan Society of Human Genetics and the University of Rwanda. The Conference takes place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 19 to 21 September 2018. The conference theme for this year is: “Building skills and resources for genomics, epigenetics and bioinformatics research for Africa”.
The choice of the theme was dictated by the need to bring Africa up to speed with the developments in human genetics outside of the continent, and the new challenges and opportunities posed in developing the emerging epigenetics studies and building capacity in bioinformatics in Africa. Indeed, innovations in genomics and multi-omics research (proteomics, metabolomics, glycomics, and others) offer new promise to address the unmet healthcare needs of people with rare and common diseases.
However, we are well aware that advances in omics technologies alone are not a guarantee that science will translate to robust responsible innovation that is firmly grounded in the societal values, needs and priorities of the continent. Despite the high prevalence of genetic diseases such as hemoglobinopathies, and the growing burden of rare diseases in African countries, medical genetics services are not growing at the desired speed. In addition, there is insufficient bioinformatics capacity to assist with the interpretations of genomic variation. Even more so, efforts are needed to bridge the gap between emerging knowledge on genomics and epigenetic changes and disease diagnosis and treatment on the continent.
The 11th Conference of the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG), as previous meetings, is a continent-wide meeting that serves to bring together the AfSHG member organisations on the continent, including the Human Genetics Societies of Southern Africa, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, DRC and Egypt. The event is held jointly with the 12th H3Africa Consortium Meeting, a direct product of a brain storming initiative of AfSHG, which aims to accelerate capacity building in genomic and bioinformatics though inspiring young students, clinicians and genetic counsellors across the continent.