AFRICA: Research project takes genetics to roots

A US$37 million international collaboration by major research bodies in the United States, Britain and Africa wants to take the fruits of the genetic revolution to a continent it has largely bypassed until now, writes Kate Kelland for Reuters. The project, named Human Heredity and Health in Africa or H3Africa, will use genetic techniques developed in the West to explore the roots of human life among populations that carry the world's oldest and most diverse sets of genes.

Founders of the plan say that 10 years after the first full human genome was mapped, what scientists can learn about genetic variation and disease in Africa will have global relevance. "Africa is the cradle of humanity, so things that we learn in Africa will undoubtedly have broad implications for peoples in all other parts of the planet," said Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health.

But the idea is also to free Africa from what some describe as 'scientific colonialism', and to try to halt a brain drain of researchers who have tended to leave the continent to study the ups and downs of its health from afar.
Full report on the Reuters site