In 2003, following many months of consultations with colleagues inside and outside of Africa, it became obvious that establishing an African Society of Human Genetics would be a worthwhile endeavour. The initial phase of the Human Genome Project has been completed with the sequencing of the human genome. This will make available the inventory of genes and regulatory sequences involved in human development, physiology and disease (International Human Genome Consortium 2001, Venter et al. 2001). Sequences of the genomes of other species including Plasmodium falciparum and Anopheles gambiae that have a direct and devastating impact on human health in Africa have also been recently published (Gardner et al. 2002, Holt et al. 2002).
The potential benefits of the ongoing Human Genome Project and similar genomic research are enormous and may form the basis of many breakthroughs in biomedical technology and healthcare. Furthermore, the continent of Africa has a significant and alluring attachment to the human genome and may hold the key to our understanding of its current form and how it may change in the future. This understanding may shed light on the best ways to manipulate information about the human genome and other genomes for the benefit of individuals and society. We would like African scientists to make positive contributions to these developments and believe that a society of hhuman genetics can provide the forum to stimulate the interest of African scientists. Thus was born the idea of an African Society of Human Genetics
Our goal is to build the capacity of African researchers and institutions and create an infrastructure that can support and sustain that capacity. AfSHG will endeavor to provide a platform on which the wealth of information and research opportunities accruing from genomic and genetics research could be discussed. AfSHG will also make possible the exploration of modern research methods and suggest ways in which these methods can be adapted to the special conditions in Africa. We believe that this will address the widening gap between Africa and the Western world in biomedical science and its benefits and provide access to scientific power for developing relevant resources in Africa.