Translational Genomics in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Opportunities and Challenges

Public Health Genomics. 2015;18(4):242-7. doi: 10.1159/000433518. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


Translation of genomic discoveries into patient care is slowly becoming a reality in developed economies around the world. In contrast, low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) have participated minimally in genomic research for several reasons including the lack of coherent national policies, the limited number of well-trained genomic scientists, poor research infrastructure, and local economic and cultural challenges. Recent initiatives such as the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa), the Qatar Genome Project, and the Mexico National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) that aim to address these problems through capacity building and empowerment of local researchers have sparked a paradigm shift. In this short communication, we describe experiences of small-scale medical genetics and translational genomic research programs in LMIC. The lessons drawn from these programs drive home the importance of addressing resource, policy, and sociocultural dynamics to realize the promise of precision medicine driven by genomic science globally. By echoing lessons from a bench-to-community translational genomic research, we advocate that large-scale genomic research projects can be successfully linked with health care programs. To harness the benefits of genomics-led health care, LMIC governments should begin to develop national genomics policies that will address human and technology capacity development within the context of their national economic and sociocultural uniqueness. These policies should encourage international collaboration and promote the link between the public health program and genomics researchers. Finally, we highlight the potential catalytic roles of the global community to foster translational genomics in LMIC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Capacity Building
  • Communicable Diseases / genetics
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Developing Countries / economics*
  • Family Health
  • Genetics, Medical / economics
  • Genetics, Medical / education
  • Genetics, Medical / methods
  • Genetics, Medical / trends
  • Genome, Human / genetics
  • Genomics / economics*
  • Genomics / education
  • Genomics / organization & administration
  • Genomics / trends*
  • Health Policy / economics
  • Health Policy / trends
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Public Health / methods
  • Public Health / trends
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / economics*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / education
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / organization & administration
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / trends*