When discussing the issue of ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity, many people think about the United States because of its history; after all, America is a country that has been largely shaped by immigration. Once we look beyond North America, however, we start seeing countries with far greater rates of diversity, to wit: Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Togo, South Africa, and others in the Mother Continent. In fact, when we look at the list of countries ranked by ethnic diversity, 17 of the top 20 spots are occupied by African nations.
The Richness of Africa’s Genetic Diversity
Africa is a continent blessed with genetic diversity: this is where anthropologists located the cradle of humanity, and this is also where we can find 54 political divisions where more than a billion people, who originated from thousands of tribes, speak more than 2,000 linguistic variations. When we think about genetic variations, we must take into account that ancient tribes traveled in and out of Africa; they mixed with others and organized new clans that eventually grew into tribes. The African genome is as vast as the Mother Continent, but it has not been researched and cataloged as comprehensively as it needs to be.
Meeting the Need for African Genome Research
Based in Nigeria and San Francisco, 54gene is a biotechnology firm that is firmly dedicated to African genome research. In July 2019, 54gene CEO Abasi Ene-Obong announced that its company had received $4.5 million worth of venture investment capital for the purpose of building a genetic biobank where researchers can tap into African DNA. There is a clear need for such a venture because only 2 percent of genetic data currently available to researchers around the world comes from Africa. Without a comprehensive DNA database from the Mother Continent, advanced pharmaceutical research cannot include patients whose origins can be traced back to this part of the world.
Enabling Life-Saving Medication for Africans and the Diaspora
It should be noted that this ambitious DNA biobank project will not only benefit people who reside in Africa. We cannot forget about Afro-Caribbeans, African Americans and many other people whose genetic history can be traced back to the Mother Continent. This is good news for humanity because a greater knowledge of global genetic data enables the discovery of medications and treatments that can more accurately cure disease and save lives. With this in mind, serious investors should keep a close eye on 54gene and this noble project.