Inauguration of the Cameroonian Society of Human Genetics
The conjunction of “hard genetics” research centers, with well established biomedical and bioethics research groups, and the exceptional possibility to hold the 6th annual meeting of the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG, 13th-15th March 2009) was an excellent opportunity to get together in synergy the entire Cameroonian “DNA/RNA scientists” . This laid to the foundation of the Cameroonian Society of Human Genetics (CSHG) that was privilege to hold its inaugural meeting in conjunction to the 6th annual meeting of the AfSHG. The theme was "Human Origin, Genetic Diversity and Health”. The AfSHG and CSHG invited leading African and international scientists in genomics and population genetics to review recent data and provide an understanding of the state-of-knowledge of Human Origin and Genetic Diversity. Overall one opening ceremony eight session, five keynote and guest speakers, 18 invited oral communications, 13 free oral communications, 43 posters and two social events could summarize the meeting. This year’s conference was graced by the presence of one Nobel Prize winner Dr Richard Roberts (Physiology and Medicine 1993). The meeting registered up to ten contributions of Cameroonian scientists from the Diaspora (currently in USA, Belgium, Gambia, Sudan and Zimbabwe). Such Diaspora participation is an opportunity to generate collaborations with home country scientists and ultimately turn the “brain drain” to “brain circulation” that could reduce the impact of the migration of health professional from Africa. Interestingly, the personal implication of the Cameroonian Ministry of Public Heath who opened the meeting in the presence of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Higher Education and a representative of the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation was a wonderful opportunity for advocacy of genetic issues at the decision-makers level. Beyond our expectation, a major promise of the Cameroonian government was the creation of the National Human Genome Institute. If this goal comes true, this will be a critical step to bring more genetics for the purpose of Public Health to the Cameroonian people. The sub-Saharan African Region needs significant capacity building in the broad area of basic research in general and Genetics (especially Human Genetics) in particular. In that respect, the existence and current activities of the AfSHG and its impact at the National levels in Africa, is a major development for the continent and an initiative that needs further encouragement from the international community.