Program Snapshot

The NIH Common Fund’s Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa) program will leverage data science technologies and prior NIH investments to develop solutions to the continent’s most pressing public health problems through a robust ecosystem of new partners from academic, government, and private sectors. Despite recent progress, Africa carries a disproportionate share of the global burden of disease. In the next decade, rapid advances in data science are expected to transform biomedical and behavioral research and lead to improved health for individuals and populations. While data science applications are largely undeveloped in Africa, many of the enabling factors for a catalytic impact are already in place. Extensive mobile phone coverage in Africa has led to major innovations that could bring the clinic to the patient through data science technologies, with applications to rural and underserved populations in the United States and worldwide.

DS-I Africa consists of five components that will form a unique continental network of data scientists and engineers that could be transformative, bringing together existing expertise to develop tools and applications that can be shared, adopted, and harmonized globally. An open data science platform will develop and maintain a data-sharing gateway for existing resources and new data generated by the DS-I Africa research hubs. A coordinating center will provide the organizational framework for the direction and management of the initiative’s common activities. Research hubs are intended to be recognized centers of excellence in data science fields and will advance population-relevant, affordable, acceptable, and scalable data science solutions to improve health in Africa. Research training programs will include a strong foundation in rigorous research design, methods and analytic techniques, provide interdisciplinary research experience and enhance trainees’ ability to develop novel data science solutions. Finally, the program will support research into key ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) issues that present challenges in Africa such as data privacy and ownership, cybersecurity and sensitivities concerning the use of geospatial information for research or public health surveillance.




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This page last reviewed on July 15, 2022