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SBIMB publishes the largest African study on the genetic architecture of lipid traits


The Human Heredity and Health in Africa Consortium (H3Africa) AWI-Gen (Africa Wits-INEPTH partnership for genomic studies) team, led from the SBIMB, recently pu

In addition, they co-published in Nature (Graham et al. 2021) on a large international study on the genetics of lipid traits (Global Lipid Genetics Consortium) that integrated genetic data from 1.65 million people based on 201 independent studies spanning 35 countries.

The AWI-Gen cohort was one of just two continental African cohorts this consortium’s publication and showed the importance of diversifying research participants to improve the ability to identify genes and genetic variants that contribute to controlling cholesterol levels.

Professor Ananyo Choudhury, a Reader in the Faculty, and SBIMB colleagues including Professor Michèle Ramsay contributed to these studies.

Ramsay (SBIMB director and AWI-Gen PI) pointed out the important role of the AWI-Gen dataset.

"Despite the large sample size of the global lipid study, it had extremely limited African data and the key contribution of our Pan-African cohort was to demonstrate the variability in the predictive ability of the genetic risk models in different geographic regions of the continent" Prof Michèle Ramsay, Director: SBIMB

She adds that “The results imply that the same genetic risk estimator might perform well in one African population and poorly in another”.

Prof Choudhury explains that “these observations highlight the extreme importance of including African studies with larger samples sizes and more geographic spread, to enable accurate and equitable use of genetic risk scores and its translation to clinical practise”. Prof Ananyo Choudhury

Reader: Wits Faculty of Health Sciences