Seminar #18

Biobanking for Africa: The H3 African biorepositories

H3 Africa/ Clinical Laboratory Services

No invitations necessary; open to all conference registrants

Monday, 5 December
CTICC room location: 1.43-1.44

All attendees including technicians/technologists, scientists, ethicists, diagnostic suppliers and pathologists


Human health and heredity in Africa (H3Africa) is a pan-African consortium which investigates the genomic and environmental determinants of disease in African subjects. It aims to build capacity for genomic research and to foster career development for African academics. In order to enable this research, the need for high quality stored biological materials (including DNA was recognised. This led to the establishment of 3 large biorepositories – in Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa. During the establishment of these repositories, a number of challenges were encountered. This seminar will examine the progress of the biorepositories in Africa and their implications for research and policy in Africa for Africans.


  1. The need and benefits of sample biorepositories in Africa
  2. Ethics for sample procurement and storage
  3. Big data and genomic studies
  4. Logistics and biorepositories


Alash’le Abimiku, Institute of Human Virology, Abuja, Nigeria
Professor Alash’le Abimiku, is a Professor at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; and The Executive Director of the International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE) at the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN). She has over 2 decades of establishing laboratory infrastructure and science in Nigeria with long-term collaborations with the USA. Prof. Abimiku’s research focuses on the role of HIV subtypes in disease pathogenesis using mother to child model; and effects of co-infections such as TB on HIV pathogenesis. Prof. Abimiku has trained a cadre of pre and Nigerian students and is internationally recognized for her leadership in HIV research and in her role as a member of the WHO Vaccine advisory committee and as Board chair of the African society of Laboratory medicine.

Marianne Henderson, National Cancer Institute, NIH
Ms. Henderson is the Senior Advisor for Division Resources for the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). She also lends her expertise as Senior Advisor on biobanking to the NCI Center for Global Health. From 1999-2015, she served as Chief of DCEG’s Office of Division Operations and Analysis. Ms. Henderson trained in zoology and marine ecology at the University of Maryland, College Park studying fish communities in the Red Sea. She has post graduate training in molecular biology, histology and genetics. Ms. Henderson is responsible and involved in project operations and contract management, fiscal and scientific reporting; strategic planning; technology transfer; and laboratory/biorepository infrastructure planning for large­scale molecular epidemiology studies for the Division. She is a founding member of the NCI Biospecimen Coordinating Committee and participated in the development and revision of the first and second editions of NCI’s Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources.

Since 1999, Ms. Henderson has been a member of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and served as ISBER President 2011–2012. She is currently the chair of the ISBER Organizing Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI)–Large Prospective Cohorts Scientific and Ethical Advisory Board, and the (Sweden Node) Advisory Board; a member of the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections; Chair of the Education and Training subcommittee and Steering committee member of the International Agency on Cancer’s Low and Middle Income Country Biobank and Cohort Network; and the U.S.­France Working Group on Large Scale Infrastructure for Life Sciences. Ms. Henderson is actively involved in human biospecimen management process improvements in processing, handling, technology transfer, and repository automation.

Jantina De Vries, University of Cape Town
Jantina originally trained in sociology and transitioned to bioethics soon after graduation. She joined the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town in 2013 as a Senior Researcher in Bioethics. Her expertise is in the area of ethical issues in genomics research in Africa. Jantina is the Chair of the H3Africa Working Group on Ethics and a member of the Regulatory and Ethics Working Group of the Global Alliance.

Working with Megan Campbell and others, Jantina is PI on an H3Africa ELSI grant examining the effect of genetic attribution on stigma associated with schizophrenia and rheumatic heart disease in the Xhosa population in the Western Cape of South Africa. The project involves conducting interviews and focus group discussions with research participants from two H3Africa genomics projects (the SAX study and RHDGen) to explore how knowledge about genetic factors could influence stigma relating to these two diseases.

Jantina is also involved – with Janet Seeley, Paulina Tindana, Michael Parker and Zambian RHDGen colleagues – in a study examining stakeholder perspectives on genomic research and broad consent in Uganda, Ghana and Zambia. One important focus of the Zambian component of the study is to explore how a restrictive regulatory context impacts on Zambian researchers’ ability to use genomic and biobanking methodologies in the investigation of disease.

Jantina obtained a DPhil through The Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford (2011), and MSc degrees in sociology at Wageningen University (2003) and the European University Institute (2004). She was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Human Genetics Department at UCT (2011-2013). She was previously the ethics coordinator for MalariaGEN (2006-2010). Her PhD explored questions around ethnic stigmatisation in population genomic research in Africa. Jantina has published widely on ethical issues in genomics research.

Nicola Mulder, University of Cape Town
Professor Mulder heads the Computational Biology Division (CBIO) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She graduated with a Bachelor degree, cum laude, in Chemistry and Microbiology, and a first class Honours degree in Microbiology, followed by a PhD in Medical Microbiology. She then spent over 8 years at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge, moving into the area of bioinformatics. At the EBI she was a Team Leader, responsible for development of InterPro and the Gene Ontology Annotation Project. At UCT, Prof Mulder works in the area of bioinformatics of infectious diseases, including pathogen and host genomics and biological networks, human variation and disease association studies, as well as microbiomes. The CBIO Division, which she heads, consists of over 30 staff and students, and provides bioinformatics support and training for postgraduate students and local researchers. Prof Mulder convenes an Honours programme in Bioinformatics, and organises an annual national training course for postgraduate students. Internationally, she is involved in capacity development in Africa, as leader of H3ABioNet, a Pan-African Bioinformatics network for H3Africa. H3ABioNet is a network of over 30 institutions in 15 African countries and 2 in outside of Africa, which aims to build bioinformatics capacity for genomics research on the continent and develop the infrastructure for managing large-scale genomics data from H3Africa projects. Prof Mulder is a member of the ELIXIR Scientific Advisory Board, which includes the major bioinformatics stakeholders in Europe, is a founding member of the Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education & Training (GOBLET), and is on the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health Steering Committee. She is on the executive committee of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, as well as a number of review and advisory boards.

Akin Abayomi, University of Stellenbosch
Professor Akin Abayomi is the Chief Pathologist and Head of the Division of Haematology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa ( He studied at the Royal Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital at the University of London where he attained his first graduate degree in Medicine. He went on to specialize in Internal Medicine and Haematology, obtaining fellowships from the Royal College of Medicine and the Royal College of Pathologists of the United Kingdom as well as the College of Medicine of South Africa. Professor Abayomi has worked in several countries around the world in both Internal Medicine and Haematology. His focus has mainly been on the complications of HIV and the development of laboratory and clinical capacity to rise to the challenge of the HIV epidemic in the developing world and Africa. He is the PI to the Tygerberg Lymphomas Study Group and the Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium and a member of the H3Africa and B3Africa consortia. Akin Abayomi is the Director of the NHLS Stellenbosch Cape Town Biobank. He is also interested in the impact of climate change on health and the footprint of humanity on ecological integrity and human-wildlife interaction.

Moses Joloba, Makarere University College of Health Sciences

Elizabeth Mayne
Elizabeth Mayne is a specialist haematologist and pathologist with a special interest in immunology and HIV-associated malignancy. She currently runs the leukaemia and lymphoma immunophenotyping and immunohaematology services at the National Health Laboratory Service which provides diagnostic support to a large geographic area including 6 of the 9 provinces in South Africa and neighbouring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Namibia and Botswana. She is a national expert on flow cytometric techniques for diagnosis of malignancy. She is extensively involved with training scientists, medical students and residents in benign and malignant haematologic conditions and tumour associated immunology both from South Africa and from other countries in the African continent and has supervised a number of masters projects related to HIV, immunology, haematology and malignancy. She has been involved in national policy formulations for pathology and is committed to providing affordable pathology health care to the largest number of Africans. She is a member of the executive of the South African Immunological Society, a member of the National Expert Committee on Immunology and Chairs the National Committee for Registrar Teaching and training. Dr Mayne is also involved in a number of research projects examining HIV-associated conditions including HIV-associated malignancies, HIV-associated non-communicable diseases and opportunistic infections including Mycobacterium tuberculosis.