EU Horizon 2020 has chosen the B3Africa project for a "success story". The project is led by Professor Erik Bongcam-Rudloff, SLU.
The resurgence of diseases like Ebola points to the need for coordinated global responses to health threats, which means doing things like biological research in standardised ways. But there is a problem: regions store and manage biological samples (biobanks) differently.
Tissue samples, genetic information and other vital sources of biological data used to understand human health need to be managed the same, regardless of the source country. IT systems used to process the samples and analyse the data – known as bioinformatics – need to be interoperable. Researchers working in the field or lab need to follow the same practices to ensure the findings are reliable.
“We desperately needed a globally standardised approach to make sure that no matter where a disease or health crisis breaks out, research can quickly respond, knowing that everyone is on the same page,” says Erik Bongcam-Rudloff, a professor and head of bioinformatics infrastructure at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. “Thanks to EU support for our B3Africa project, and working with our research partners, we’ve created a platform with technical and intellectual resources to bridge European and African biobanking and biological research.”
B3Africa’s seven-country international consortium, including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, has integrated available open-source software, services and tools, as well as public databases, for use by African and European biobanks and research institutions.