AAU CHS Neuro GAP Project Receives Prestigious Global Award

The Neuropsychiatric Genetics of African Populations-Psychosis study (Neuro GAP-P) Project at College of Health Sciences (CHS) of Addis Ababa University (AAU) received a prestigious global award on the 14th of October 2021.

The Project received the prestigious international award, the Pamela Sklar Innovation Award, in an online ceremony held during the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG) Annual World Congress.

According to the information form CHS; the Neuro GAP-P project is the largest human genetics research in Africa with a plan of recruiting 40,000 participants including 13,000 from Ethiopia for DNA analysis to uncover the risk genes of Psychosis.

Over 30,000 participants including nearly 8,000 from Ethiopia have been recruited thus far, the information from the College added.

Professor Solomon Teferra, the Principal Investigator (PI) of Neuro-GAP-P Ethiopia project  and Head of Department of Psychiatry, SoM, CHS of AAU, stated that the project has done the largest human genetics research in Ethiopia so far.

The Neuro-GAP-P project, besides to its role in uncovering the root causes of psychosis through discovery of risk genes, has been contributing a lot to the capacity building in human genetics research, specifically neuropsychiatric genetics research, through the GINGER program, supported by renowned scientists in the US, UK and Africa, Prof. Solomon said.

As confirmed by Prof. Solomon, the project has also been contributing to the upgrading of molecular lab in the department of Microbiology, where it undertakes DNA extraction from saliva samples, and currently supporting the establishment of a biobank in the CHS.

In her announcement of the award, Dr. Lea K. Davis, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, emphasized the need to recognize such global initiatives using awards, motivating scientists and celebrating each other.

Dr. Davis said, “The work we engage in every day is our life’s work, and that’s our calling, and we would do it even if we weren’t recognized. We know that our individual contributions will merge with those of others to advance us all.”

“As a community, we create and give these awards to say to each other, ‘We see you. We appreciate you and we celebrate what you have given to the field.’ It is in that spirit that we recognize the tremendous innovation of the global partnership that is the Neuro-GAP Psychosis project,” Dr. Davis confirmed.

Dr. Pamela Sklar, by whose name the award named, was a renowned American psychiatrist and psychiatric geneticist who died in 2017. She was instrumental in advancing the idea of polygenic inheritance for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, an advocate of the establishment of global consortia to study the genetics of psychosis, etc.

 Neuro GAP-P Ethiopia project, launched in April 2018 at AAU, is a multi-site collaboration between AAU, KEMRI-Welcome Trust research center and Moi University (Kenya), Makarere University (Uganda), UCT (South Africa), and The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (US), is funded by the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research (a philanthropist organization) and The National Institute of Health (US).

Image source: PGC twitter page


From: College of Health Sciences (CHS)

Editor: Abraham Girmay