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PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Feb 4;12(2):e1004395. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004395. eCollection 2016 Feb.

The Development of Computational Biology in South Africa: Successes Achieved and Lessons Learnt.

Author information

1
Computational Biology Division, Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
2
South African National Bioinformatics Institute/Medical Research Council of South Africa Bioinformatics Unit, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa.
3
Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
4
School of Electrical & Information Engineering, and Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
5
Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
6
Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research, Cape Town, South Africa.
7
School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
8
Department of Biochemistry, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
9
Research Unit in Bioinformatics (RUBi), Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Abstract

Bioinformatics is now a critical skill in many research and commercial environments as biological data are increasing in both size and complexity. South African researchers recognized this need in the mid-1990s and responded by working with the government as well as international bodies to develop initiatives to build bioinformatics capacity in the country. Significant injections of support from these bodies provided a springboard for the establishment of computational biology units at multiple universities throughout the country, which took on teaching, basic research and support roles. Several challenges were encountered, for example with unreliability of funding, lack of skills, and lack of infrastructure. However, the bioinformatics community worked together to overcome these, and South Africa is now arguably the leading country in bioinformatics on the African continent. Here we discuss how the discipline developed in the country, highlighting the challenges, successes, and lessons learnt.

PMID:
26845152
PMCID:
PMC4742231
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004395
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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