Botswana graduates first Ph.D. scientist in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine

The University of Botswana graduated its first Ph.D. scientist from the Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN) on Monday, Nov. 1, in Gaborone, Botswana. This achievement speaks directly to the recently renewed agreement between Baylor College of Medicine and University of Botswana and the institutions’ mutual desire to build scientist-leader capacity.

Gaone Retshabile

The mission of the CAfGEN study, part of the H3Africa Consortium, is to create a collaborative, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, inter- and intra-country network of scientists, clinicians and researchers who use genomic approaches to study gene-pathogen interactions in HIV/AIDS, its co-morbidities and other diseases among diverse pediatric African populations. Started in 2014, CAfGEN has accomplished most of its aims in the first phase of funding and now is on the second phase of the project. CAfGEN is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and has built genomic sequencing systems and provided support for the bioinformatic centers in Botswana and Uganda.

CAfGEN is the first research collaboration between Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence, University of Botswana, Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation – Eswatini, Makerere University, Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation – Uganda and Baylor College of Medicine. A total of 11 Ph.D. students, five of them in Botswana, and two MSc students will be trained through this project. They spend two years of training at Baylor College of Medicine and then complete the rest of their work at their home institution.

Gaone Retshabile is the first of the Botswana trainee cohort who graduates with a Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of Botswana. His thesis is based on his published research on the uncaptured genetic variation in the population of Botswana. “We congratulate Dr. Retshabile and recognize the tremendous support he got from his mentors, supervisors and fellow trainees,” said Dr. Mogomotsi Matshaba, executive director of Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence. “This effort was made possible by generous funding from the National Institutes of Health.”

This work is supported by the NIH, Office of the Director, the Office of AIDS Research, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the National Human Genome Research Institute, grant number U54AI110398.