AIMS Graduation 2008
Estimating the heritability of disease traits such as TB & HIV, using DNA sequence data
After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from the University of Kinshasa in the DRC, Dr Emile Chimusa Rugamika graduated from AIMS in 2008. At AIMS, he developed a deep interest in studying human diversity and its relevance to human health. After AIMS, he completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.
Emile has lectured and tutored at AIMS, and supervised several AIMS students since he graduated. In 2014, he became the first recipient of the AIMS Alumni Small Research Grant (AASRG). AASRG supports AIMS Alumni to conduct applied research work in affiliation to AIMS centres. He says it is a great opportunity for him to continue to build his capacity as an independent researcher in his field.
“I envision that my project will develop important tools required to advance medical population genetic research in sub-saharan Africa”
As a mathematical population geneticist, his research focus is on medical population genetics and computational statistics methods for mapping complex diseases. He uses computational and statistical methods to understand both the genetics and environment architecture of genetic diseases. He is interested in investigating methodologies for improving the analysis of large scale genome-wide association and patterns of variation within and between species. He is currently investigating approaches for estimating the heritability of the traits found in such diseases as tuberculosis and HIV – huge burdens in Africa – using the DNA sequenced data of both parents and children, particularly new born-babies. This also involves looking at variations in drug/ treatment responses to optimise prescription and usage of medicines in the sub-Saharan African population. A wide variety of fields including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, computational biology, bio-statistics and diagnostic areas will benefit from this research.