African Scientists Call for More Control of Their Continent's Genomic Data

4/18/2018 - Associate Professor of Anthropology Brenna Henn in Nature.

As the genomics revolution finally turns its attention to Africa and northern researchers flock there to collect data, scientists from the continent are demanding a larger role in projects.

On 18 April, a group of Africa-based researchers issued guidelines for the ethical handling of samples for genomic studies. The voluntary rules are an effort to combat ‘helicopter’ research, in which foreign scientists take samples and data from communities and then return to their home institutions. The guidelines also aim to ensure that African citizens see health benefits from research.

The framework “codifies what we have been talking about for many years”, says Brenna Henn, a population geneticist at the University of California, Davis, who has been collaborating with African scientists on genomics projects for more than a decade. She adds that a number of its recommendations, such as feeding back research results to sampled populations, are still missing from many projects.

Read the full story in Nature.