Dr. Joachim Kapalanga, MD, MSc, PhD Western University

Dr. Joachim Kapalanga is a Physician-Scientist and an Educator who has held faculty and leadership positions in various institutions and organizations. Dr. Kapalanga was educated at Yale University, the State University of New York, Queens University, McMaster University and at the University of Guelph.

Dr. Kapalanga is Professor (Adj) of Pediatrics at Schulich School of Medicine and South Western Ontario Academic Health Network-Research Group, and faculty with the South Western Ontario Medical Education Network/Schulich School of Medicine/Western University. He is also faculty at McMaster University.  He is a Research Group member of the South Western Ontario Academic Health Network (SWAHN)/Schulich School of Medicine at Western University.

Dr. Kapalanga is Chief of Pediatrics Grey Bruce Health Services, Ontario and Consultant Pediatrician and Medical Geneticist Summerside Medical Centre (SSMC), Prince Edward Island (PEI).  He is a Visiting Professor, Gulu University. In 2007 Dr. Kapalanga was appointed Associate Professor and Head Division of Medical Genetics at Upstate Medical University/State University of New York (SUNY). Between 2002 to 2007 Dr. Kapalanga was Assistant Professor and Member Prince Edward Island Health Research Institute/University of Prince Edward Island.

Between 2003 to 2007, he was also chairman of the Perinatal Committee SSMC/Prince County Hospital, head of the PEI Newborn Screening Program and PEI Representative at the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Canadian Expertise (FACE) Research Round table. Between 2008 to 2011 He was appointed to Council, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Prince Edward Island. He was also Lecturer at Dalhousie University between 2007 to 2010. Between 1998 to 2011 Dr Kapalanga was a Clinical Instructor in Genetics at Yale University and between 1995 to 1998 Assistant Clinical Instructor in pathology and pediatrics at SUNY, Brooklyn. Dr Kapalanga obtained an MSc degree in Human Genetics from the University of Guelph, a PhD degree in medical genetics from Queen’s University. He subsequently did a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University. He also did residency training in pathology at SUNY Health Sciences Centre/Kings County Hospital and University Hospital, Brooklyn, residency training in pediatrics at SUNY/Maimonides Medical Center, a postdoctoral fellowship and residency at Yale University.

Dr. Kapalanga is a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Genetics, Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and an Associate Fellow of the Canadian College of Medical Genetics. Dr. Kapalanga is a member of the American Medical Association, American Society of Human Genetics, FACE Research Roundtable, Canadian Congenital Anomalies Network Surveillance Network, Canadian Medical Association, the Ontario Medical Association and founding member of the African Society of Human Genetics,.  Dr. Kapalanga’s current scholarly and research pursuits are in neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral genetics, in the emerging field of epigenetics and in cancer genetics.  He espouses multidisciplinary, multicenter and international research.

SASA Presidential address

Pushing the Frontiers of Science in Africa: The Hurdles, Challenges, Pitfalls and the Way Forward

Joachim Kapalanga, MD, PhD, Executive President of the Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa

Please first allow me to say a word or two about SASA. It was launched in 2011, by African scientists around the world and in Africa, and participant scientist friends of Africa from the U.S.A., Canada, Europe, China, India, Brazil and Russia. It was inaugurated and held it’s First Annual International Scientific Conference under the theme “The Advancement of Science in Africa” on April 25-28, 2013 at the University of Limpopo, South Africa. Following the resounding success of that first conference, SASA held its second such Conference in Kampala, Uganda, May 6-10, 2014 under the theme “Science Innovation for Economic development” that included a joint collaboration colloquium with the Global Knowledge Initiative organization entitled “The African Collaboration Colloquium”. The Third such Conference under the theme “Science Research & Education in Africa” was held in Toronto, Canada in August 28-31, 2015; its Proceedings have just been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishers and can be viewed under the link: http://www.cambridgescholars.com/science-research-and-education-in-africa (please see also the attached Poster from Cambridge Scholars). The Fourth Conference under the theme “Advancing Africa’s Sustainable Development Through Science, Technology and Innovation” was held in Nairobi, Kenya, August 24-26, 2016 and its Proceedings will likewise be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishers on or about end of 2017.

We are now holding the Fifth SASA International Scientific Conference here in Kigali, Rwanda, jointly with the Rwanda Academy of Sciences & Biotechnology and the University of Rwanda. Its theme is “Translational Science and Biotechnology in Africa”. It includes several important sub-themes: Non-Communicable and Infectious Diseases (emphasis: neurological diseases, cancer, diabetes, HTA, neglected diseases, etc.); Precision and Personalized Medicine; Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacogenomics; Bio; Biochemistry and Microbial Ecology; Biotechnology in Agriculture; and Wildlife Biodiversity and Conservation.

Quite a bit has been said and written about the dismal state of science and research in Africa. Africa lags behind all other in terms of indices of scientific activity as measured by the number of academic researchers per 1 million population, the number of masters, doctoral and postdoctoral output, the number of publication output, the number of Africans attending and presenting at major international scientific meetings, the number of African citizens who are scientists or engineers, continents and Africa’s contribution to global research and development (R&D).  Despite the gloomy picture, over the past decade Africa has also been a continent with a heightened tempo of scientific activity; increasingly attracting major international funding for science and research projects. In addition Africa has also seen a huge surge in the number of institutions of higher learning, an increase in the number of major funding agencies and absolute money amounts dedicated to supporting science and research programs in Africa. Further, there has been a marked increase in the number of national academies of science and civil society scientific organizations.  Not to be left out of the act in progress, African governments have also increased the tempo of national political awareness about the societal good of science, and some have made modest increases in funding science and research programs. Indeed the picture is not all gloomy; a 2014 World Bank report shows signs of improvement in certain aspects of scientific activity, notably an increase in the quantity and quality of research, and a modest increase in the number of scientific publications. While some progress is happening in continent wide science and research activity, Africa is still way back compared to the rest of the World. Even countries favored by major international funding agencies have, as yet, not made the cut to attain World class status in science, research, innovation and certainly not in invention. SASA’s objectives are, inter alia, to find ways of overcoming the hurdles, to confront challenges, to avoid pitfalls and to search for the way forward for Pushing the Frontiers of Science in Africa.


Epigenetics, Neurogenetics, neurodevelopmental science and research