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12 August 2021
UWC's SANBI Director appointed as a senior advisor for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Professor Alan Christoffels, Director of the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) and research chair of Bioinformatics and Health Genomics at the University of the Western Cape, has been appointed as a senior advisor for pathogen genomics and partnerships at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), based at the African Union.

Africa CDC is a public health agency of the African Union. SANBI has been working with the agency for the past two years to develop systems for disease outbreak management that will go beyond COVID-19. 

Prof Christoffels’ appointment, which comes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthens this partnership. He will provide guidance and technical assistance to develop and evaluate strategic projects of the Institute for Pathogen Genomics at the Africa CDC.

“This work focuses on integrating pathogen genomics in public health decision-making on the continent,” said Prof Christoffels. 

“There is an urgent need to support experimental labs offering DNA sequencing, to generate data solutions that will help us deal with future outbreaks.” 

SANBI is part of a network of laboratories in Africa working to respond to disease outbreaks on the continent. At any given time, there are upwards of 100 infectious disease outbreaks in Africa, of which SARS-COV-2 is just one. 

“We have software to analyse Tuberculosis data, which we have now modified to work with SARS-COV-2 data. This month, SANBI in partnership with Africa CDC, are running training on software that will allow all African labs to install their own software versions so that they can analyse data in-house,” he explained. 

For more about Prof Christoffels visit SANBI