Professor Ambroise Wonkam


Prof Ambroise Wonkam is a professor of medical genetics, Director of GeneMAP (Genetic Medicine of African Populations), and immediate past Deputy Dean Research at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

After a MD training from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon), he completed a thesis in Cell Biology in the department of Morphology, University of Geneva (Switzerland) and a PhD in Human Genetics (University of Cape Town, South Africa).  Other salient aspects of Prof Wonkam’s background include his education as a medical geneticist at a highly reputable genetics department in Geneva (Switzerland). He subsequently practices medical genetics in both European and African contexts.

His research interests are reflected in more than 180 peer-reviewed publications, which are in molecular, clinical, educational, and ethical aspects of medical and human genetics. His research focuses on 1) Psychosocial Burden and Genomics modifiers of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD); 2) Genetics of hearing loss, and 3) Ethical and educational Issues in human genetics in Africa.

Prof Wonkam has let successfully over the past 5 years an NIH/NHGRI funded SCD project, and as Co-applicant, a Wellcome Trust - DELTAS grant to develop capacity in human Genetic on the African continent. He has recently been granted from NIH/NHLBI 3.7m USD, to pursue research activities of the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Centre (SADaCC), for various studies in Tanzania, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Mali, and Ghana. In addition, under the current round of the H3Africa Consortium, he was Awarded 3 grants to support the Hearing impairment Genetic Studies in Africa (HI Genes Africa) from the NIH/NHGRI (1.25mUSD) and the AESA/Wellcome Trust (2.07mUSD); and another collaborative center grant from the NIH/NHGRI (2.5mUSD) to support the study of Incidental Findings in Genetic Research in Africa (IFGENERA), and recently from the NIH-NIMH, and this year an important support to investigated Public Understanding of Big data in Genomics Medicine in Africa (PUBGEM-Africa)” (2.mUSD) for the next 5 years.

He was awarded the 2003 Denber-Pinard Prize for the best thesis from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland, and won the very competitive Clinical Genetics Society International Award for 2014, from the British Society of Genetic Medicine, and 2021 Alan Pifer Award, that honours a UCT researcher whose outreach work has contributed to the advancement and welfare of South Africa’s disadvantaged people.

Prof Wonkam is associate Editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, the Journal of Community Genetics, and Academic Editor of Plos One, and member of the editorial Board of Human Genetics.

Prof Wonkam is president of the African Society of Human Genetics, Chair of the steering committee of H3Africa consortium, Board member of the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies, steering committee’s member of the Global Genetic Medicine Collaborative (G2MC).