Genomic Surveillance Hubs in West Africa (NIHR Global Health Research Group)




Started 2022

Malaria is one of the greatest public health challenges facing countries in West Africa. It is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year and disproportionately affects children in this region of the world. By better understanding the genomic landscape of malaria parasites and vectors in this region, National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) can better tailor their responses and save lives.

This project will establish the scientific, technical, and operational infrastructure for regional genomic surveillance hubs in West Africa. 

Objectives & Coordination

With support from the UK’s National Institutes of Health Research (NIHR), the idea is to build on existing genomics expertise in The Gambia and Ghana to establish hubs where samples from countries across the region can be sequenced. By collecting, sequencing, and analysing samples locally, NMCPs can access more timely data on drug and insecticide resistance and make more informed policy decisions.

The first-choice technology for this project is amplicon sequencing, and partners will be implementing local versions of the MalariaGEN Amplicon Toolkit. This will be able to provide information on drug resistance in the parasite P. falciparum. There are also plans to implement other genomic assays that can identify insecticide resistance, vector species diversity, diagnostic test failures, and overall epidemiology of malaria in the region.

This research was funded by the NIHR (NIHR134717) using UK aid from the UK Government to support global health research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the UK government.


Sampling locations

  • Ghana (GH)
  • The Gambia (GM)
  • Senegal (SN)
  • Nigeria (NG)
  • Burkina Faso (BF)
  • Guinea (GN)
  • Sierra Leone (SL)


Phase I - 2018-2022 (NIHR Global Health Research Group on genomic surveillance of malaria in West Africa at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute - NIHR 17/63/91)
Establish amplicon sequencing facilities in Ghana and The Gambia

Phase II - 2022-2025 (NIHR Global Health Research Group on Establishing Regional Hubs for Genomic Surveillance in West Africa, at the Wellcome Sanger Institute - NIHR 134717)
Scale up and establish sequencing hubs, where samples from other countries are processed. Integrate with NMCPs and public health infrastructure to better inform malaria control policy.


Project leads

The hubs will be located at The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the University of Ghana (West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP))

Prof Martin Donnelly

Professor of Evolutionary Genetics
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
Honorary Faculty Member
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK

Dr Shavanthi Rajatileka

In-Country Operations Lead
Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK

Dr Sónia Gonçalves

Head of Global Operations
Genomic Surveillance Unit (Wellcome Sanger Institute), UK