Uganda Genome Resource: A rich research database for genomic studies of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Africa

Uganda Genome Resource: A rich research database for genomic studies of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Africa
Segun Fatumo, Joseph Mugisha, Opeyemi Soremekun, Allan Kalungi, Richard Mayanja, Christopher Kintu, Ronald Makanga, Ayoub Kakande, Andrew Abaasa, Gershim Asiki, Robert Kalyesubula, Robert Newton, Moffat Nyirenda, Manjinder S Sandhu, Pontiano Kaleebu
medRxiv, 2022.05.05.22274740; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.05.05.22274740
Abstract
   The Uganda Genome Resource (UGR) is a well characterised genomic database, with a range of phenotypic communicable and non-communicable diseases and risk factors generated from the Uganda General Population Cohort (GPC) – a population-based open cohort study established in 1989 by the Medical Research Council (MRC) UK in collaboration with the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).

In 2011, UGR was launched with genotype data on ∼5000 and whole genome sequence data on ∼2000 Ugandan individuals from 9 ethno-linguistic groups. Leveraging other available platforms at the MRC Uganda such as Biorepository centre for sample storage, Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory Service (CDLS) for sample diagnostic testing, sequencing platform for DNA extraction, Uganda Medical informatics Unit (UMIC) for large-scale data analysis, GPC for additional sample collection, UGR is strategically poised to expand and generate scientific discoveries.

Here, we describe UGR and highlight the important genetic findings thus far including how UGR is providing opportunities to: (1) discover novel disease susceptibility genetic loci; (2) refine association signals at new and existing loci; (3) develop and test Polygenic Risk Score (PRS) to determine individual’s disease risk; 4) assess how some risk factors including infectious diseases are causally related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa; (5) develop research capacity for genomics in Africa; and (6) enhance African participation in the global genomics research arena. Leveraging established research infrastructure, expertise, local genomic leadership, global collaboration and strategic funding, we anticipate that UGR can develop further to a comparable level of European and Asian large-scale genomic initiatives.

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