Project Coordinator and Work Package 8 – Coordination – Leader: Erik Bongcam-Rudloff, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden, Erik.Bongcam@slu.se
The rapidly evolving African biobanks are invaluable for biomedical research because the African population has the greatest genomic diversity on the planet and represents an incredible resource of information to advance fundamental understanding of health and disease.
Biological specimens have been collected for decades, but only since the late 1990s have biobanks been established in a more systematic way. Biobanks collect and store a variety of (mostly human) samples from tissue, cells, blood, saliva, plasma, or DNA. These samples are essential in biomedical research to understand disease mechanisms and develop new therapies.
Eleven partners from African and European countries are jointly developing a collaboration framework and an informatics infrastructure that accelerates and facilitates biomedical research across the continents to address global health challenges together. Via the Horizon 2020 work programme, the European Commission is providing a budget of about 2 million euros over a period of 3 years for the B3Africa initiative, which involves a highly motivated group whose activities are presented in this first Newsletter.
B3Africa has two strategic aims:
- Create a harmonized ethical and legal framework between European and African partner institutions. A common ethical and legal framework is essential for a trustworthy informatics platform that will enable the sharing of bioresources and data and will also consolidate cooperation in biobanking between Africa and Europe.
- Provide an “out-of-the-box” informatics solution that facilitates data management, processing, and sharing and can also be used under challenging networking conditions in Africa and Europe.