The development of computational biology in South Africa : successes achieved and lessons learnt

Mulder, Nicola J. ; Christoffels, Alan ; De Oliveira, Tulio ; Gamieldien, Junaid ; Hazelhurst, Scott ; Joubert, Fourie ; Kumuthini, Judit ; Pillay, Che S. ; Snoep, Jacky L. ; Bishop, Ozlem Tastan ; Tiffin, Nicki (2016)

CITATION: Mulder, N. J. et al. 2016. The development of computational biology in South Africa : successes achieved and lessons learnt. PLoS Computational Biology, 12(2):e1004395, doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004395.

The original publication is available at http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol

Article

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.

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