The UKZN's Big Data Flagship Programme and the KwaZulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Programme (KRISP) have created a multidisciplinary team to focus on the analysis and control of viral outbreaks and genomic analysis. The team is composed of more than 20 world-class researchers, who include bioinformaticians, computer scientists, infectious diseases clinicians, mathematicians, statisticians and theoretical and quantum computing scientists.
The team has already produced five (out of six) viral genomes for Covid-19 in South Africa, which established how the disease entered the country. 'Our government has already used our results to show that South Africa is flattening the curve,' highlights KRISP director Professor Tulio de Oliveira. 'Our graphs were featured by the Health Minister and the Chief Scientific Officer of South Africa's Covid-19 response committee in their technical presentation to the nation last week.'
There has been considerable interest in the gene-sequencing work being done by the team. 'We are now working with the Department of Science and Innovation and the South African Medical Research Council to help them map the epidemic in South Africa,' he reports.
'We have access to large computer clusters and state-of-the-art laboratories with DNA high-throughput sequencers and automated DNA extraction robotic equipment,' he points out. These capabilities have attracted back home leading South African researchers who were working abroad, as well as bringing top international researchers to work in the country.
'We think a campaign will highlight the level of expertise at KRISP and the opportunities for individuals and corporates to support this unprecedented scientific work in South Africa,' he explains. 'In addition, the aim of the campaign is to help us continue providing free, open and independent analytical services to the decision-makers guiding us through this pandemic.'
News date: 2020-04-20
KRISP has been created by the coordinated effort of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the South African Medical Research Countil (SAMRC).