Paidamoyo Kachambwa

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Video of the Researcher

Lab name

Center for Proteomic and Genetics Research

Website

http://www.cpgr.org.za

Base

Full name

Paidamoyo Kachambwa

Summary

Mapping the diverse African Genome can improve how we diagnose and treat diseases.

Type of researcher

Researcher (Professional)

Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

Hello, my name is Paidamoyo Kachambwa. I’m the bioinformatics team leader at the Center for Proteomic and Genomics Research CPGR. Bioinformatics in short is an interdisciplinary field that combines biology, computer science, mathematics, and statistics in order to analyze and interpret biological data. I hold BSc in Computer Science and Microbiology.  

I was then interested in combining the two majors in order to use computational methods to better understand biological data, and therefore pursued BMedSci honours in Bioinformatics and later a MScMed in Bioinformatics.

Currently part-time I’m in my second year of pursuing a PhD in Health Sciences Education. I was interested in this after experiencing how the Medical Sciences field was and is constantly growing and evolving.

Describe your research

The CPGR is based in Cape Town, South Africa and is a nonprofit organization with the for-profit subsidiary called the Artisan Climate. The organization provides state of the art proteomic services to the life sciences and biotech communities in South Africa and across Africa on local and regional and international projects.

To create a fit for purpose offering for customers from across academia to industry. Bioinformatics is a critical skill and is a broad field 

with different specialities. Due to the scarcity of this skill many organizations adopt to uses, especially in an organization like the CPGR which has a wide range of different projects and therefore has a constant change in the scope of the work that we do. The team has four members each with a different strength that is leverage depending on the aspect of the project.

At the same time we learn from each other in areas that we can improve on. I would like to think of us as the Power Rangers where the individual power combine into a Megazord in order to tackle more complex problems. Of all the solutions that come out of the organization I am particularly

interested in projects that unravel the African genome, a term usually used in the artisan environment.

Explain its significance

There is a drive at the CPGR to consider the growing need for applications in disease with respect to better understanding how certain diseases affect people of African decent. Research shows gaps in data from people of African descent, meaning there is a gap in characterizing, and therefore understanding the African genome versus how well characterized and understood for example European ancestry is.

The African genome is also the most diverse, making it complicated to understand. But its diversity is thought of as the key to better understanding some diseases and creating solutions. Studies clearly show that some diseases can have a varying effect on an individual based on their ancestry.

For example, prostate cancer is twice as aggressive and not well characterized in men of African descent versus those of European ancestry. We’re currently involved in the MADCap project which actually focuses on this. Interestingly the bioinfometrics team includes members from South African, Nigeria, Kenya and myself from Zimbabwe which reflects the pan-African reach and approach that is taken here.

Knowing more about the African genome can be achieved as a starting point by producing and analyzing data that comes from people of African descent. I will take you to a summary of one of the many interesting projects that I’ve been a part of during my tenure at the CPGR.

The Human Leukocyte Antigen, HLA typing. Although the typing is done as part of the donor matching procedure in transplantations, which may include entry of the donor to the registry. The drive to build an African registry by the Sunflower Fund has far-reaching positive implications. The data gathered can and is being used by researchers to get better insights and HMS and their association with health.

In particular we have led to provide health insights for people of African descent. The diversity of the African genome may also increase chances for global patients in finding a match.

As the world becomes a global village, genomes are becoming more diverse. Also genetic diseases are generally due to variations and the diverse African genome may be the key to better understanding these variations. Generating data is only the first step but nonetheless an exciting step and once more there is available there are a lot of downstream bioinformetrics projects that are really to take place.

Institution

Institution name

Center for Proteomic and Genetic Research

Type of institution

Research Institute

Industry

Health care and social assistance

Hospitals