54gene Completes Initial Phase of Nigerian 100,000 Genome Project


Emma Okonji

54gene, the health technology company advancing African genomics research for improved global health outcomes, has through its non-profit initiative, the African Centre for Translational Genetics (ACTG), completed its first consortium-led publication on over 100,000 Nigerians as commissioned in 2020 at its launch. 

Through 54gene’s ACTG, the consortium operates as a unique public-private partnership involving leading African scientists guided by a team of global genomic leaders as the Scientific Advisory Board to achieve the mission of the ACTG.

According to the paper, as of January 2019, approximately three per cent of genomic data being used for genome wide association studies (GWAS) came from people of African descent, with this statistic dropping to 1.1 per cent in 2021. The paper details efforts in building an important resource that could significantly enable African populations to benefit from the global efforts at achieving precision medicine for various diseases.

54gene Founder and CEO, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, said: “Along with our partners, we are proud to be leading the new frontier of African genomics. Precision medicine goes against the one-size-fits-all approach to disease treatment as it is more inclusive, with people treated on their unique genetic makeup. With more than 200 ethnic groups and 500 different languages, Nigeria has one of the most diverse ethnolinguistic concentrations in the world. This pioneering study from the Nigerian population provides an excellent window into the representation of diversity across Africa.” 

Co-lead, NCD-GHS and the first author of the landmark paper, Dr. Segun Fatumo, said: “I am so proud of what NCD-GHS has achieved in only about two years. In our own eyes, 100,000 genomes of Africa are emerging from more than 300 diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria. 

Speaking on the publication of the research paper, Vice President, Genomics and Data Science at 54gene, Colm O’Dushlaine, said: “The 100,000 project supports 54gene’s core mission to equalize precision medicine, by building rich genomic datasets that will be used to generate powerful insights for the benefit of African, and other global populations. African populations are among the most diverse in the world.”