Making Genetic Medicine Equitable

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Winter 2022

“To make genetic medicine a global good for understanding the variability among us, we need to understand our genome to its fullest. We have a duty to carry forward this work and make genetic medicine innovations sustainable and equitable for all populations.”

— South African geneticist Ambroise Wonkam, who was recently named director of the Department of Genetic Medicine and the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. An advocate of diversifying the pool of genetic reference data that scientists often use to make genetic discoveries, Wonkam has made pivotal contributions to research on sickle cell disease, hearing loss, medical research ethics and genetics education.

His research has included a focus on the psychosocial aspects of sickle cell disease and genetic links to the condition’s symptoms, and he recently established the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Centre to study how epidemiological, clinical and genetic information from African populations with sickle cell disease may correlate with treatment outcomes.

Wonkam succeeds David Valle, who will remain on the Johns Hopkins faculty and continue research and clinical duties.