The SANBio Bioinformatics node is housed at the University of Mauritius.
This is an area where biological and biochemical sciences interact with computer science and statistics. The Bioinformatics Node was implemented through the SANBio Network, in order to provide support to the entire Network as part of creating capacity for research collaborations. It has implemented a program whereby training was provided on the use of computer applications for analysing genomics data and deriving a better comprehension of living organisms. In doing so, the program has reached to a large number of researchers, academics and students in the region. Emphasis was laid on understanding pathogen genomics, phylogenetics, the latest DNA sequencing methodologies and how such technologies are profoundly changing the way scientific investigations are being led. The need for a node for bioinformatics is justified by the tremendous progress in genomics that has brought about challenging projects like the 1000 plant genomes, the 1000 insect genomes and 1000 human genomes. All of which are using the same methodologies and bioinformatics approaches. It is therefore imperative that SANBio continues to support initiatives in the area of genomics and bioinformatics.
Bioinformatics and health care
Both human and veterinary health care rely heavily on the availability of products specifically designed to fight infectious diseases and to manage non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The precise diagnostic, and therefore control, of infectious agents is now possible using specific bioinformatics tools. They have become indispensible for epidemiological surveillance and pathogen tracking. Other applications have been designed for mapping the genetic background of individuals suffering from diabetes, cardio-vascular problems or other NCDs.
Bioinformatics and Food security
The goal of reducing poverty and hunger in the world no doubt requires investment in science and technology. Modern food production methods are technology-driven and it is now clear that biotechnology is key to increasing food production. Transgenic foods for disease and pest management are produced through molecular techniques that have become routine in agricultural science. Increasingly, uses of bioinformatics tools are proving even more valuable as genomic and expression data become available. Cereal genomics has advanced enormously since the rice genome and the many EST data are within reach of all researchers.
Goal of the node
To work in a network of scientists from the countries of Southern Africa for the development and implementation of a transnational program in bioinformatics. The Node targets scientists at universities and research institutions where the application of such tools are most needed.
Establish a network of scientists to work on the action across the Southern African region and to allow productive interactions between computer scientists and molecular biologists Provide practical training in specific areas of bioinformatics relevant to priority fields To enable postgraduate students to get involved in the activities To enhance the quality of research output from regional centres by providing the necessary tools and skills.
Node Prof Yasmina Fakim (Coordinator)
University of Mauritius Le Reduit, Moka, Mauritius