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Medical Geneticists

Assoc Prof Ambroise Wonkam

Dr Wonkam is presently associate professor/senior specialist in the Division of Human Genetics, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Cape Town. In addition to his clinical activities as consultant medical geneticist, he specifically drives new developments in the medical students’ genetic education program. In view of his crossover skills in both clinical and laboratory genetics, he is integrally involved in the development and teaching of the registrar program as well as the teaching of genetic counselors and genetic laboratory staff.

After a MD training from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I (Cameroon), Dr Wonkam completed a thesis in Cell Biology in the Department of Morphology, University of Geneva (Switzerland). On a transgenic mice model, he evidenced that ectopic expression of Connexin32 leads to hypertrophy and hyperplasia of pancreatic insulin producing beta-cells. He was awarded the 2003 Denber-Pinard Prize for the best thesis from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva.

Other salient aspects of Dr 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. Dr Wonkam has recently established the effective medical genetics practice in Cameroon.

Dr Wonkam interests are reflected more than 30 peer-reviewed publications which are in laboratory, clinical and educational and ethical aspects of medical genetics. He has recently authored 2 book chapters in “Genomics and Health in the Developing World” (Oxford University Press, 2012).

In addition to characterization of mutations in several of monogenic diseases in African Populations (e.g. hearing loss, Disorders of Sex development), his major ongoing research project is on phenotypic correlation of sickle cell anemia to genotypic variations.

Dr Wonkam is founder and president of the Cameroonian Society of Human Genetics, board member of both the African Society of Human Genetics and the International Federation of Human Genetics Societies.

PhD Project Title: “Burden of Sickle Cell Disease and prenatal Genetic Diagnosis in Cameroon”

Supervisor: Prof. R Ramesar