Computational Omics and Biomedical Informatics Program (COBIP)
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- William Hersh
- Nicola Mulder
Despite the significant human health and disease burden in Africa, no biomedical data science graduate degree programmes in computational omics, clinical informatics and translational research are offered on the continent. To foster research training that will cultivate graduates able to respond with agility to future biomedical data science needs and develop innovative solutions to address African health challenges, formal interdisciplinary training in biomedical data science is needed. Such training opportunities should include: (i) Biomedical data science applied to data from multi-omics and other technologies, such as biomedical imaging, coupled with the ethical, legal and social Implications of these advances; (ii) Fundamental and advanced concepts in machine intelligence and computational paradigms for developing novel approaches for mining large-scale biomedical data; and (iii) Awareness, amongst graduates, of career opportunities within biomedical data science along with how the soft and hard skills gained in the training program could be transferred into a range of biotechnology/biomedical industries and research/professional careers. Motivated by these needs and leveraging the expertise in clinical and translational research as well as biomedical informatics at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), we propose to develop the “Computational Omics and Biomedical Informatics Program” (COBIP) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The program will introduce graduate degree programs to train African biomedical data scientists and faculty in rigorous fundamental data science, computational omics, clinical informatics and imaging data science. COBIP will lead to the development of solutions that address the African disease burden and are relevant to global health. Specifically, we aim to: 1) Develop an interdisciplinary data science training program focused on the health and healthcare needs and priorities of Africa; 2) Train faculty with relevant disciplinary backgrounds, from collaborating African institutions, in biomedical data science to support the development of the field across the continent; and 3) Establish COBIP as an international center of excellence in computational omics and biomedical informatics, distributed across African institutions as a collaborative network of faculty, researchers, and students focused on the African health priorities. COBIP will attract cohorts of trainees from diverse backgrounds including mathematics, statistics, informatics, computer sciences, engineering and biomedical sciences. COBIP will provide innovative educational infrastructure and research opportunities as well as links between clinicians, researchers and biomedical industries through placements and internships. COBIP, through its graduates, will have decisive impacts on African biomedical data science research and stimulate diagnostics, therapeutic selection and drug development to support improved human health and healthcare in Africa and globally.
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