Mr. Babu, Kenneth

University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Kenneth is a Bioinformatics PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. He holds an MSc in Bioinformatics from UCT and a BSc (Hons) Computer Science from Egerton University in Kenya. Before moving to South Africa, he worked as a consultant database developer at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi Kenya. His research interests include data science with a focus on data integration methods for candidate disease gene prioritization, disease similarity estimations and drug repurposing research. He is the current lead developer for the Sickle Cell Disease Ontology.

 Dr. Hamilton, Carol

 Dr. Hanchard, Neil Andrew

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Dr. Hanchard is an Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. He received his MBBS (Hons) from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, and his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, UK, as Rhodes Scholar. During his time at Oxford, Dr. Hanchard worked in the laboratory of Prof. Dominic Kwiatkowski, using patterns of linkage disequilibrium to map complex disease traits. Thereafter he completed his formal training as a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and as a clinical geneticist at Baylor College of Medicine. His lab focuses on using genomics to explore complex pediatric disease traits, with specific interests in severe childhood malnutrition, pediatric HIV/AIDS, and sickle cell disease. Dr. Hanchard has published articles on the population genetics of the sickle allele in African and Afro-Caribbean populations and holds extra-mural funding to study genetic modifiers of Sickle Cell Disease phenotypes.

Associate Prof.Ofori-Acquah, Solomon

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Dr. Ofori-Acquah is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. He is Director of the Center for Translational and International Hematology at the University’s Vascular Medicine Institute. He is Director and Project Leader of a number of NIH and Wellcome Trust research and training programs. His research is focused on the role and mechanism of extracellular heme in the pathobiology of sickle cell disease (SCD). He has developed a mouse model of acute chest syndrome that recapitulates the clinical, biological and pathological features of the condition in humans. His group is using this model to unravel the mechanism of lung injury in acute chest syndrome, and to test candidate drugs for their potential to prevent and treat this lung condition. He developed the concept of extracellular heme crisis in SCD, and defined free heme as a prototypical erythroid danger associated molecular pattern molecule that drives sterile inflammation in this disorder in the absence of infection. His research on chronic effects of heme is focused on the role and mechanism of the Nrf2 pathway in end-organ damage. His global health activities include co-directing a longitudinal observational study of biomarkers of organ damage in a large SCD cohort in Kumasi, Ghana, and as Director of the graduate course in Molecular Mechanisms of Human Genetic Diseases in the University of Ghana’s Wellcome Trust funded DELTAS Africa program.

Dr. Tayo, Bamidele Olusegun

Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.

Dr. Bamidele Tayo is a Genetic Epidemiologist and a faculty Associate Professor at the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL. His academic qualifications include BSc in Human Nutrition and Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria; MSc in Statistical Genetics from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy; and PhD in Epidemiology and Community Health from the University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

Bamidele’s research interest is in genetic association analysis of blood pressure phenotypes, sickle cell disease, obesity and chronic kidney disease in populations of African descent. He is also actively involved in training and mentoring of biomedical researchers in West African region including Nigeria and Ghana to enhance research capacity in the region. He is an investigator on a number of ongoing extramural research projects on sickle cell disease, kidney disease, obesity and hypertension.

Bamidele is a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and an active member of the International Biometric Society, International Genetic Epidemiology Society, African Society of Human Genetics, American Society of Human Genetics, American Statistical Association, American Heart Association and The New York Academy of Sciences.

Prof. Wonkam, Ambroise

University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.

After a MD training from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé 1 (Cameroon), Dr.Wonkam completed a thesis in Cell Biology in the Department of Morphology, University of Geneva (Switzerland) and a PhD in Human genetics (University of Cape Town, South Africa). On a transgenic mice model, he evidenced that ectopic expression of Connexin32 leads to hypertrophy and hyperplasia of pancreatic insulin producing beta cells. He was awarded the 2003 Denber-Pinard prize for the best thesis from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva. Other salient aspects of Dr.Wonkam’s background include his education as a medical geneticist at a highly reputable genetics department in Geneva. He subsequently practices medical genetics in both European and African contexts. Dr.Wonkam’s interests are reflected in more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, which are in laboratory, clinical, educations and ethical aspects of medical genetics. He was recently awarded for 2014, the very competitive UK Clinical Genetics International Fellowship from the British Society of Genetics Medicine.

Dr Wonkam is secretary of the African Society of Human Genetics, board member of Southern African Society of Human Genetics and the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies, member of the HUGO council.

Dr. Wonkam has a proven record on sickle disease research in Africa oriented in the use of genetics to address public health intervention. He has introduced the practice of prenatal genetic diagnosis of SCD in both Cameroon and Cape Town. He has tractable record of studying psychosocial burden of SCD and genomic factors that affect the SCD phenotype, specifically HbF-promoting loci and co-inheritance of SCD and alpha-thalassemia in Cameroon.  He is PI of an H3Africa grant aiming to examine ethical issues relating to sickle cell genomics research in Cameroon, Tanzania and Ghana.