(Photo taken January 2020)
In line with our mission to advance inclusive precision medicine through research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs, we are pleased to announce that we have collaborated with Illumina to establish a new genetics testing facility at our laboratory in Nigeria. The installation equips our lab with a suite of Illumina’s cutting-edge sequencing and high-density microarray technology platforms, including a NovaSeq 6000, providing the capacity to run advanced genomic analysis, ultimately creating one of the most comprehensive genome sequencing, screening and diagnostics facilities in Nigeria, and Africa.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest human genetic diversity hubs, Africa houses more genetic diversity than any other continent, as the African genome has been proven to be the oldest of our species. Yet, it is estimated that less than 3% of genomes already analyzed come from Africans, making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information for health and drug discovery research which we intend to leverage as a global research resource, while ensuring Africans benefit from advanced medical innovations.
We believe the addition of Illumina’s cutting-edge technology to our research and diagnostic capabilities is a critical step in fulfilling our mission of equalizing access to precision medicine. This is part of our wider commitment to build capacity and infrastructure in Africa which will allow us to significantly expand genomics research while also improving health outcomes on the continent. Alongside our many partners in the African medical and scientific community, we want to make advanced molecular diagnostics more accessible to the region, while creating hundreds of skilled jobs in molecular biology and bioinformatics.
We additionally consider this partnership as a reflection of ours and Illumina’s commitment to support Africa in retaining ownership of its genomic research. Paula Dowdy, SVP, General Manager EMEA, Illumina, had this to say about the pioneering partnership: “It’s incredibly important to ensure equitable access to genomic sequencing technology across the world so that genomes can be interpreted in the context of global diversity. Through partnerships such as this with 54gene, we aim to remove barriers of access to sequencing and expand the benefits of genomics to as many people as possible.”
Through this alliance, African samples stored in our de-identified biobank will be genotyped, sequenced and analyzed without the need to send samples overseas, significantly reducing turnaround time and costs for test results. Illumina will also be delivering its renowned training for the use of its sequencing and microarray equipment and ensuring ongoing support for our growing team of molecular scientists.