The largest psychiatric genetics study ever done in Africa is increasing the diversity of data on mental illness, training a new generation of geneticists, and chipping away at the genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
By Tom Ulrich
It was not quite noon yet, but Mirembe had already had a long day. She had come to Butabika Hospital in Uganda early that morning, first to see a nurse and a doctor, and now stepped into a warm, sparsely-furnished office. Sitting down across the table from a research assistant, she wondered how long she was going to be there. But she was curious. The nurse had told her a little about a research study on mental illness and that she was eligible to participate if she agreed to sign up. She was full of questions.
Mirembe (not her real name) is one of tens of thousands of outpatients seen every year at Butabika, the national mental health hospital for all of Uganda, located on a hill on the outskirts of the capital city, Kampala. Over the next two hours, she would learn in detail what the research study was about and decide whether to participate. If she said yes, she would then answer more than 150 questions about her health, provide some of her saliva for DNA, and become one of more than 19,000 people across four African countries who, over the last two years, have signed on to help scientists in Africa, the United States, and beyond better understand the genetic roots of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric illnesses.
That effort, the Neuropsychiatric Genetics of African Populations-Psychosis (or NeuroGAP-Psychosis) project, is the largest study of psychiatric genetics ever conducted in Africa. Bringing together scientists and doctors from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and the United States, the four-year-long project seeks to engage 35,000 Africans in a quest to gain a deeper biological understanding of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder across a diversity of populations.
We could be the first people to have 35,000 DNA samples in Africa. That’s huge.Dr. Dickens akena, makerere university
Current genetic data on mental illness are mostly from people of European ancestry, and NeuroGAP-Psychosis aims to change that, by ensuring that African science and people are represented in the search for genetic markers for these diseases.
“The world is moving towards precision medicines,” said Dr. Dickens Akena, a psychiatrist and the NeuroGAP-Psychosis lead investigator in Uganda, and a psychiatry lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala. “If we’re going to make medications or diagnostics that are tailored towards certain genetic variations, then we need to include populations from Africa in the genetic data. If we don’t do that, the African continent and its inhabitants will be left behind.”
Makerere Medical Journal: Golden Jubilee Edition 2022
It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Golden Jubilee edition of this phenomenal journal. Yes, The Makerere Medical Journal marks 50 years of publication with this year’s edition and all this has been made possible by the endless efforts and contributions of the Makerere University College of Health Sciences Staff and students because without your research submissions and financial support, the journal wouldn’t have made it this far. To you reading this, thank you for contributing to the sustainability of this great project, year in year out.
Here’s a quote to ponder on as you delve into this year’s well-crafted articles and it’s by Zora Hurston (1891-1960), “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” And doesn’t that just define our purpose as researchers?!
This edition’s articles cover pertinent topics ranging from Antimicrobial Stewardship, COVID-19 interventions, Oral Health amongst others. It also features student projects, write-ups on student-led organizations and societies that are making a difference in the life of a health sciences’ student and many more interesting writings. Featured in this issue are international manuscripts from countries like Nigeria and we were also honored to work with other universities within the country and feature some of their students’ articles.
I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to my team of editors that engaged in a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the articles published are up to standard. As the editorial team, we are quite pleased to see the number of undergraduates involved in research steadily increasing and all the efforts that have been put in by the different stakeholders to see this happen are commendable.
With that said, I hope you enjoy every second of your read!!!
Research and Writers’ Club 2021-2022
Call for Applications: HEPI Masters Support Fellowship
Applications are invited for the Health Professional Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI-SHSSU) Masters fellowship programme support from postgraduate students of:
- Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS)
- Kabale University School of Medicine
- Clarke International University
- Faculty of Health Sciences, Busitema University
The programme will support graduates in their final year of training leading to the award of a Masters degree on any of the Master’s graduate training programs at the stated University for a maximum of 19 successful candidates.
The closing date for the receipt of applications is 30th September 2022.
Inquiries and Applications must be submitted to email@example.com
See attachment for more details
Call for Applications: Faculty Research Training
Applications are invited from faculty at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kabale School of Medicine, and Clarke International University to undertake training in research.
Limited research funding will be available for research focusing on community-based, clinical, operational, health professions education, epidemiological, biomedical, and research in Communicable Diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, etc.) or non-communicable diseases of importance to Uganda.
Up to 15 applicants will be selected and they will undergo a brief (2 days) didactic training in research proposal development prior to embarking on their research projects. Up to 4,000 US dollars per applicant (depending on budget) will be available to support the research.
The closing date for the receipt of applications is 3rd October 2022.
Inquiries can be forwarded to the PI, HEPISU Program on firstname.lastname@example.org
See attachment for more details
General5 days ago
Government Sponsorship Admissions Lists 2022/2023
General3 days ago
Mak Private Sponsorship Undergraduate Admission Lists 2022/23
General3 days ago
Mature Age Entry Scheme Admissions List 2022/2023
General4 days ago
Application for Mature Age Entry Admission 2023/2024
General2 days ago
Supplementary Admissions to Bachelor of Laws Under Private Sponsorship 2022/23