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Applied & Translational Genomics
Vol. 5, 2015, Pages: 3–10

Neurogenomics: An opportunity to integrate neuroscience, genomics and bioinformatics research in Africa

Thomas K. Karikari, Jelena Aleksic

Neuroscience, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Modern genomic approaches have made enormous contributions to improving our understanding of the function, development and evolution of the nervous system, and the diversity within and between species. However, most of these research advances have been recorded in countries with advanced scientific resources and funding support systems. On the contrary, little is known about, for example, the possible interplay between different genes, non-coding elements and environmental factors in modulating neurological diseases among populations in low-income countries, including many African countries. The unique ancestry of African populations suggests that improved inclusion of these populations in neuroscience-related genomic studies would significantly help to identify novel factors that might shape the future of neuroscience research and neurological healthcare. This perspective is strongly supported by the recent identification that diseased individuals and their kindred from specific sub-Saharan African populations lack common neurological disease-associated genetic mutations. This indicates that there may be population-specific causes of neurological diseases, necessitating further investigations into the contribution of additional, presently-unknown genomic factors. Here, we discuss how the development of neurogenomics research in Africa would help to elucidate disease-related genomic variants, and also provide a good basis to develop more effective therapies. Furthermore, neurogenomics would harness African scientists' expertise in neuroscience, genomics and bioinformatics to extend our understanding of the neural basis of behaviour, development and evolution.

Keywords: Neurogenomics; Neuroscience; Genomics; Bioinformatics; Scientific capacity; Africa.
 
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