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An 'Omics Orchestra

An orchestra with a sick tuba player and a lead violinist who is missing her bow — this is how Reinhard Hiller, co-director of South Africa's Center for Proteomic and Genomic Research sees the state of genomics and proteomics in Africa today. Writing on CPGR's blog, Hiller describes a situation on the continent where investments made in human resources are not sustained as top scientists often emigrate for better employment opportunities, infrastructure is mismanaged and isolated, and countries compete against each other rather than developing a regional strategy for success. "The net effect is that investments into physical and human resources don't yield proper returns in terms of scientific publications, patents, and biomedical innovation," Hiller writes.

According to Hiller, the solution to these challenges is network orchestration, the "art of assembling an array of resources into seamless strings of value generation." He says that African genomics and proteomics infrastructure should be reassembled in an "agile, customer-focused fashion" based on principles of "network, cooperation, and coordination." With alternative resources built into the resulting network, Hiller says that African genomics and proteomics infrastructure would also be "resilient to external and internal turbulence." In addition, Hiller says that Africa is particularly poised to benefit from network orchestration. "Where else, if applied properly, can these principles have more positive impact than in a resource-scarce environment, such as in many of the emerging economies in Africa?" he writes.