News

GA4GH Inc. adds five new Directors, expanding global representation in genomics leadership


3 October 2022

Barcelona, Spain — GA4GH Inc., the Canadian non-profit corporation associated with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, has announced the appointment of five new members to sit on the Board of Directors.

Bartha Maria Knoppers (McGill University), Christian Happi (Redeemer’s University), Gerardo Jiménez-Sánchez (Genomica Medica), Hidewaki Nakagawa (RIKEN), and Nicola Mulder (University of Cape Town) now sit on the GA4GH Inc. Board of Directors.

They join existing Directors Ewan Birney (chair; EMBL, EMBL-EBI), Peter Goodhand (CEO; OICR), Heidi Rehm (Massachusetts General Hospital, Broad Institute), and Kathryn North (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), who formed the board when GA4GH Inc. incorporated in 2021. 

Goodhand announced the new Board of Directors during remarks at the organisation’s 10th Plenary meeting held in Barcelona, Spain. The board will advise the Global Alliance in its mission to accelerate progress in genomic research and human health by cultivating a common framework of standards and harmonised approaches for effective and responsible genomic and health-related data sharing.

The new Directors introduce a broader range of expertise to the board of GA4GH Inc. and also drastically expand its geographic scope: 

  • Christian Happi (Nigeria) has a distinguished background in public health. In 2019, he received the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) Africa Prize for his seminal work on infectious diseases genomics in Africa, including Ebola and Lassa fever. In 2020, he performed the first sequence of the new SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, within 48 hours of receiving the sample.
  • Gerardo Jiménez-Sánchez (Mexico) is a paediatrician, geneticist, and business leader who brings expertise from the clinic, genomics research and the bioeconomy. His contributions to the Human Genome Project included the first catalogue of human disease genes as well as pioneering whole genome studies in Mexico. 
  • Bartha Maria Knoppers (Canada) is a world leader in genomics policy and international genomic data sharing. She holds four Doctorates Honoris Causa and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Hastings Center (bioethics), the Canadian Academy Health Sciences (CAHS), and the Royal Society of Canada. 
  • Nicola Mulder (South Africa) is an internationally-renowned computational biologist who leads a Pan African Bioinformatics Network of more than two dozen institutions in 17 countries, which is developing bioinformatics capacity to enable genomic data analysis through an extensive training program for African researchers.
  • Hidewaki Nakagawa (Japan) brings critical expertise in the area of cancer genomics as a leader in cancer whole genome sequencing and genome-wide association studies (GWAS), cancer immunology, and biomarker development using next-generation sequencing. He also serves as a program officer of the Biobank/Genomic Medicine project at AMED, the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.

The majority of the new GA4GH Inc. Directors were nominated by the GA4GH Core Funders Forum, a group of representatives from funding agencies that support GA4GH with at least $200,000 USD annually for three years or more. Together, the Core Funders Forum and the GA4GH Inc. Board of Directors serve as key strategic advisory bodies of the overall Global Alliance. The GA4GH Standards Steering Committee and an open nomination process in early 2022 put forward the additional Directors.

The GA4GH Inc. Board of Directors provides specific oversight to the management of the activities and affairs of GA4GH Inc. through two primary duties: a fiduciary duty and duty of care to the not-for-profit corporation. 

All Directors serve as the members of GA4GH Inc. and complete at least one three-year renewable term, for a total of no more than nine years.