SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: Ambroise Wonkam, the secrets of African DNA

To Johns Hopkins Medicine community Dear Colleagues, We are delighted to announce the appointment of Ambroise Wonkam, M.D., Ph.D., as director of the Department of Genetic Medicine and the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. He begins his new position Jan. 1, 2022. Genetic Medicine has an illustrious place in Johns Hopkins history, and the faculty members have made many crucial contributions to the field. We are confident that Ambroise is the right person to continue this impressive legacy.

Dr. Wonkam received his medical degree from the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon, a Doctor of Medical Science degree in cell biology from the University of Geneva in Switzerland and a doctorate in human genetics from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He joined the University of Geneva as a medical geneticist, and in 2007, returned to the University of Yaoundé as a senior lecturer. In 2009, he moved to the University of Cape Town as a senior lecturer and senior specialist. Since then, he has taken on increasing responsibility, as associate professor, professor and deputy dean of research for the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is also director of the Genetic Medicine of African Populations (GeneMAP) research center at the University of Cape Town.

Dr. Wonkam is president of the African Society of Human Genetics, and an associate editor of the American Journal of Human Genetics, the American Journal of Medical Genetics and the Journal of Community Genetics, as well as a member of the editorial board of Human Genetics. Over his career, he has published more than 180 peer-reviewed articles on human and medical genetics, focusing particularly on issues related to populations of African ancestry, the genomics of sickle cell disease, and hearing loss in Africa. He is acknowledged internationally as an authority on genomic research.

Through these roles, Dr. Wonkam has made significant contributions to the field of genetics and has shown himself to be a gifted leader and educator. In the latter role, he has supervised more than 40 postgraduate students through their degree process.

We would like to thank David Valle for his 14 years of outstanding service leading the department and the institute. Throughout his tenure, he has been a dedicated and effective leader, and we deeply appreciate his years of service. Dr. Valle, thank you for your many contributions to the department, the institute and the school.


We are extremely excited to name Ambroise as the next director of the Department of Genetic Medicine and the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. Please join us in congratulating him.

Sincerely, Paul B. Rothman, M.D. Dean of the Medical Faculty CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine Kevin W. Sowers, M.S.N., R.N., F.A.A.N. President, Johns Hopkins Health System EVP, Johns Hopkins Medicine Landon S. King, M.D. Executive Vice Dean Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine