African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research (APCDR)

APCDR is an international research partnership to assess the burden and causes of non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes and are rapidly become leading causes of morbidity and mortality globally. With population ageing, more sedentary lifestyles and urban development in the economically developing world, rates of NCDs in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly increasing. The APCDR aims to facilitate multi-centre research to assess the burden and causes of NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa to improve the evidence base underpinning potential responses to NCDs, provide a platform for interventional research and ensure that African populations benefit from the on-going advances in genomics. Capacity strengthening, facilitating and promoting NCD epidemiological and genomic research and training, and supporting the next generation of research leaders in sub-Saharan Africa are key activities of the Partnership.

[African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research]

Background

Blood Draw, Kyamulibwa, Uganda, September 2011

Blood Draw, Kyamulibwa, Uganda, September 2011 [Georgina Murphy]

Infectious diseases such as respiratory infection, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, invasive bacterial disease, and malaria currently account for a major proportion of the disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa, and have a particular impact on child survival. Over the next two decades, it is expected that their burden will decline due to a range of health interventions and other social and demographic changes, and that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will become an increasingly important problem. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and other metabolic diseases are expected to become leading causes of morbidity and death in sub-Saharan Africa as part of a broader epidemiological transition from infectious to non-infectious diseases due to rapidly increasing urbanisation of the population and associated trends towards unhealthy diets, smoking, obesity and sedentary lifestyles, resulting in increases in metabolic risk factors.

There is a critical need for high-quality, comparable studies across the spectrum of NCDs and their risk factors in sub-Saharan Africa to help understand their burden and causation. This information will help planning and implementation of prevention and control measures for NCDs. The differences in the risk of NCDs among populations are largely influenced by varying environments and underlying susceptibility to disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, our understanding is currently limited due to a shortage of studies in the region and is further complicated by the high burden of infectious diseases such as HIV, TB, hepatitis B and C in sub-Saharan Africa, which may also be associated with an increased risk of NCDs. These complications emphasise the value of a comprehensive approach to assessing and managing NCDs.

The integration of epidemiological methods with genome-wide technologies has provided new insights into the biology of NCDs and their risk factors in western populations. These advances in genomics create new opportunities and challenges for researchers in sub-Saharan Africa. The relevance of many recent genomic findings to populations in sub-Saharan Africa is not known, given the marked genomic diversity among populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding the genomic basis of NCDs and their risk factors in populations of African descent is likely to provide additional insights into disease aetiology and potential therapeutic strategies.

The APCDR Partnership

The APCDR aims to facilitate multi-centre research to assess the burden and aetiology of NCDs in sub-Saharan to improve the evidence base underpinning potential responses to NCDs, to provide a platform for interventional research and to ensure that African populations benefit from the on-going advances in genomics.

Formed in 2010, APCDR is the first international and pan-African multidisciplinary partnership to combine research expertise and experience across a broad range of NCDs as well as chronic infectious diseases. Current representation spans ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as research centres in the UK and USA. In order to maximise the collective benefits of collaboration, we are conducting large-scale studies at the regional level and harnessing collective infrastructure, expertise and experience to provide more reliable and precise information on NCD burden, underlying aetiology and strategies for intervention. APCDR is underpinned by capacity strengthening activities, mechanisms and infrastructure to share research resources and data, and to provide training and support for the next generation of research leaders in Africa.

Our Work

Participating African centres in the APCDR - 14 sub-Saharan Africa groups scanning 10 sub-Saharan Africa countries

Participating African centres in the APCDR - 14 sub-Saharan Africa groups scanning 10 sub-Saharan Africa countries [Manj Sandu, 2012]

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With the development of working groups within the partnership, we are conducting several research projects, including:

  • studies to systematically assess the impact of HIV on risk of NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa
  • hepatitis infection, diversity and risk of NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa
  • genomics of cardiometabolic traits and diseases in sub-Saharan Africa
  • the African Genome Variation project
  • qualitative studies to inform the development of population based interventions to prevent NCDs.

We provide support for postgraduate training in epidemiology and genomics through the annual Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Advanced Course in Genomic Epidemiology in Africa, as well as providing support for exchange programmes at UK and African Institutes as part of the activities of the working groups. Through these activities we intend to create the necessary environment to develop expertise and infrastructure for sustaining epidemiological and genomic research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Partners

* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/imn5guym