Thematic Focus:
Agriculture, Biodiversity and Sustainability, Knowledge Production and Transfer
Involved Countries:
Switzerland, Uganda

Is Affiliated to:
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Received Funding By:

Here we propose bioinformatics@makerere, a hands-on bioinformatics course at Makerere University of Kampala, Uganda. The course comprises lectures in the morning and computer practicals in the afternoon. It’s a four-day course targeted at 16 participants. The main goals are to convey to the students an understanding of bioinformatic problems and solutions, in particular regarding comparative genomics; to empower the students with bioinformatic skills that they can use in their own research; and to spark interest in computational approaches by demonstrating how powerful and exciting these can be.

Bioinformatics@makerere is the product of a long-term collaboration between Profs. Enock Matovu (Makerere University) and Pascal Mäser (Swiss TPH). They have worked together since 1994 and initiated their first bioinformatics courses in Uganda in 2006. Support from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation would enable them to launch a bioinformatics course that is tailored to the needs of advanced students in the biomedical disciplines of Makerere University. This course is held in 2014 and 2016. Once established, we aim to integrate it into a larger educative program of East Africa.

I believe that the apparent disinterest of African scientists in computational sciences and bioinformatics primarily stems from a lack of classes taught on these topics in the current biomedical curricular. Teaching ‘Applied Bioinformatics’ to East as well as West-African M.Sc. students in our M.Sc. course ‘Infection Biology’ at the Swiss TPH, I realized that the majority had not heard about bioinformatic concepts before and lacked the fundamentals in mathematics to understand them.Thus I think that it is necessary for African universities to incorporate more mathematics and computational approaches in the foundation courses of biomedical sciences. Educating a new generation of bio informaticians opens a wealth of opportunities to biomedical research in Africa and will allow to tap the students’ full innovation potential.

The aim of this proposal is to conduct an introductory course in bioinformatics at Makerere University, Uganda. It is a four days’ course directed at interested B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. students in the biomedical sciences. The course will feature lectures and hands-on computer practicals. The principal goal of bioinformatics@makerere is to function as an eye opener, conveying to the students that bioinformatics is an exciting research field, accessible, and fun!

General objectives:-

  • to loose fear of contact with the world of genomics and bioinformatics
  • to understand bioinformatic research questions and possible solutions
  • to gain new skills that empower their own research projects
  • to be thrilled by genomics and the beauty of bioinformatic algorithms

Specific objectives:-

  • to be able to handle and reformat large data files
  • to understand key bioinformatic concepts and algorithms
  • to know and use remote bioinformatics tools and databases on the web
  • to know BioLinux and be able to use it locally for sequence analyses

-Prof. Pascal Mäser, Unit Head of Parasite Chemotherapy, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel
-Prof. MantovuEnock, College of Veterinary Medicine, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda