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AAU Launches the Largest Human Genetics Study in Ethiopia

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The Department of Psychiatry of the College of Health Sciences (CHS) of the AAU, in collaboration with Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, launched a research project entitled “Neuropsychiatric Genetics of African Populations-Psychosis Ethiopia project” (NeuroGAP-P- Ethiopia) on April 17, 2018.

The research is the largest human genetics study in Ethiopia thus far. It is part of a multi-site project involving four African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

The research project aims to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the genetic architecture of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in Africa by collecting and analyzing large-scale DNA samples from 8,000 participants (4,000 cases and 4,000 controls) over a span of 4-5 years.

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On his explanation about the trajectory of the project, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and principal investigator of the project, Dr. Solomon Teferra indicated that DNA extraction will take place at the CHS microbiology lab after the recruitment starts in June 2018.

One of the lasting legacies expected from this project is the launching of genetic testing in Tikur Anbesa Specialized Hospital through capacity building training for lab professionals in genetic studies and upgrading the lab infrastructure.

Prof. Karestan Koenen, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at Harvard University and PI of NeuroGAP-P, presented a brief overview of NeuroGAP-P project.

In his closing remark, Vice president for research and technology transfer of the AAU, Professor Zerihun Woldu forwarded his gratitude to the CHS for launching this research project and paving the way for gene treatment for people with psychiatric problems in the not so distant future.

More than one million USD has been earmarked for the project expected to be completed in four years.

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