Genomic study of body composition and cadiometabolic disease risk

The long-term vision of the Collaborative Centre is to build capacity in Africa for research that leads to an understanding of and response to the interplay between genetic, epigenetic and environmental risk factors for obesity and associated cardiometabolic disease (CMD) in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective is to develop capability that enables the use of genomics in addressing questions of biomedical importance.

The Collaborative Center will be consolidated under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Developing Countries (INDEPTH)(www.indepth-network.org). It will capitalize on the strengths of existing longitudinal cohorts, including the urban Soweto (Birth to Twenty cohort) and rural Agincourt research platforms in South Africa (Wits based), and the well-established INDEPTH health and demographic surveillance centers in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and South Africa. The centers offer established infrastructure, trained fieldworkers, long-standing community engagement and service links, and detailed longitudinal and phenotype data. Genetic, genomic and, at a later stage, epigenetic studies will be conducted on biological specimens already collected, and additional prospective sampling, with harmonized phenotyping across sites. Already, key genetic studies involving the Soweto Birth to Twenty cohort are underway.