Global genomic disparities – a focus on Africa

Dr. Vanessa M. Hayes

Dr. Vanessa Hayes is a professor of Genomic Medicine at J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, CA. At CPHx she will present a talk on global genomic disparities with a focus on Africa in our session on large scale human re-sequencing.

Global genomic disparities

Determining the extent of Human Genome diversity that exists across the globe is essential if the benefits of the Human Genome Project are to be available to all. Current genome information is heavily biased towards recently diverged populations living outside of Africa. Home to one sixth of the world’s population, Africa is a diverse continent that has played a significant role in modern human evolution, from our humble beginnings to global migrations.

The people of Africa have however been largely excluded from studies based on large-scale DNA analysis (from genotyping to whole genome sequencing) and in turn disparities in human health and disease. Our research focus has been to obtain a better understanding of the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa.

The ability to define the evolutionary history of modern humans, and in parallel the evolution of human adaptation and disease, has been dramatically advanced by the ability to contrast and compare patterns of DNA sequence variation between different contemporary populations. Analyses of these patterns of variation have suggested that the most divergent human lineages may derive from the ancient people that populated the most Southern region of Africa.