Thermo Fisher Scientific and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Announce the Axiom Africa Array for Medical and Population Genomics

The array tags at least 90 per cent of common genetic variation in 12 diverse African populations

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Announce the Axiom Africa Array for Medical and Population Genomics


CARLSBAD, Calif. – (October 20, 2017) – Thermo Fisher Scientific today announced the commercial launch of the Applied Biosystems AxiomAfrica Array for medical and population genomics to accelerate and support initiatives in global health and population research. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Thermo Fisher Scientific combined their respective expertise in human genomic analysis and informatics to co-develop the Axiom Africa Array. The array provides capture of genome wide variation in African populations, as well as Asian and European populations.

Populations from Africa have the greatest diversity in their genomes and the highest numbers of continental and population-specific genetic variants. Due to this diversity there is a critical need to build new genetic tools to enable medical and population genetic research studies across the region — to maximize opportunities for discovery, biological insights into disease and to reconstruct population history of the region.

To create a new roadmap for genomic studies in Africa, The African Genome resource was initiated through a collaborative network of scientists, primarily from the African Partnership for Chronic Disease Research. Together, with African partner institutes, including the Medical Research Council/Ugandan Virus Research Institute and The University of KwaZulu Natal, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute with the University of Cambridge co-led the whole-genome sequencing effort of 4,956 individuals from populations in Africa to create the African Genome Resources (AGR) haplotype reference panel.

The AGR whole-genome sequencing effort encompassed populations from across Africa, including from Ethiopia (Gumuz, Wolayta, Amhara, Oromo, Somali), Egypt, Namibia (Nama/Khoesan) and South Africa (Zulu). The genomes of 2,000 individuals from Uganda (Baganda, Banyarwanda, Barundi and others) were also included. The AGR resource now contains 94.5M SNPs of which 21.7M are unique to AGR.

The Axiom Africa Array leverages the content from the unique AGR and offers a comprehensive imputation-aware genotyping microarray containing 925K variants. The array tags at least 90 per cent of common genetic variation in 12 diverse African populations. It also includes pre-selected evidence based genetic variants important in the context of disease research and pharmacogenomics in global populations. The Axiom Africa Array is supported by the AGR, which integrated with 1,000 genomes phase 3, provides a reference panel for imputation.

“Working as a partnership across Africa and globally has led to the development of the African Genome Resource; enabling the development of new tools to understand population disease and health across the region. We are pleased to see our efforts in this area being translated to a genotyping array that we expect will become the standard for large scale medical and population genetic studies in Africa, and globally — demonstrated by its ability to also capture genome variation in European and Asian populations.

“We partnered with Thermo Fisher Scientific to develop the Africa Array on the Applied Biosystems Axiom genotyping technology because of their established portfolio of array designs globally, including world-leading biobank initiatives.”

Dr Manjinder Sandhu, Senior Group Leader, Global Health & Populations Group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge

The Axiom Africa Array shares all the same attributes as the rest of the Axiom genotyping arrays, including powerful imputation-aware algorithms. This imputation technology has been applied for developing several biobank arrays in various longitudinal cohort studies.

“We pride ourselves in being the platform of choice to support global medical and population research initiatives that aim to understand genetic risk factors for disease development and are contributing to advancements in medical research for millions of individuals. The Axiom Africa Array, powered by the Axiom Genotyping Solution, will continue to drive precision medicine research initiatives around the world.”

Dr Laurent Bellon, vice president and general manager, microarray business, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Notes to Editors
Selected Websites
Genome-wide association studiesStoriesGenome-wide association studies
Genome-wide association studies have led to the discovery of hundreds of genes with a role in common diseases. 

What is inheritance?FactsWhat is inheritance?
Inheritance is the process by which genetic information is passed on from parent to child. This is why members of the same family tend to have similar characteristics. 

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