March 2021 – Tanzania updates

The end of last year the team spent time in Tanzania working with various government agencies to transfer knowledge and share ideas for sustainability of the project. We now have a Ugandan based project manager, Joseph Okalebo, who is working to build connections as we move forward in our work. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Webby Award Honoree!

Very excited to announce our video in collaboration with Cray Supercomputers is a Webby Award Honoree for 2020.


More about the Webby Awards:
Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Video, Advertising, Media & PR, Apps, Mobile, and Voice, Social, Podcasts, and Games. Established in 1996, this year’s Webby Awards received nearly 13,000 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide. The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: WP Engine,, Slack, YouGov, BASIC, KPMG, Adweek, Fast Company, The New Museum, and Social Media Week.

A podcast and impact of COVID-19

Hello everyone.

The plans we had for 2020 and more sequencing for farmers is temporarily on hold.  Laura was in Uganda March 2020 and many plans to roll-out more sequencing and scaling the work were in place but the mandatory lockdown and closing of the borders in Uganda cause the plans to be put on hold.  We are hopeful when this is all over we will keep pushing.  It is clear, democratizing sequencing is so important and we hope as we move forward into the future, we make more meaningful connections with the medical teams in East Africa to truly have the One Health impact we aim for in our work.

In the meantime, you can listen to a podcast Laura did with PhDivas before she left for Uganda to begin the critical work.  Please consider donating to our project.

Stay home, stay safe.

WIRED Magazine- WIRED 25

The Cassava Virus Action Project was featured in WIRED magazine’s 25 people racing to save us from ourselves.

Laura attended the event in San Francisco and sat on a data panel which can be viewed here:

And she also did a podcast with the WIRED Gadget Lab which can be viewed here:

Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone- #sequencing4farmers & #poresafari

Democratic Republic of the Congo: September took the team (Dr. Jo-Ann Stanton and Dr. Laura Boykin) to Democratic Republic of the Congo to meeting with long time collaborator Tony Bakelana (INERA)- we are working to uncover the causal agent of the cassava root necrosis in the western parts of DRC. We also teamed up with Dr. Gerrye Mubungu (U of Kinshasa) and Dr. Hugues Abriel and Oxford Nanopore (Iain MacLaren and Charles Kayuki) to put on Pore Safari #2 – where we trained over 60 students in over 3 days.  It was an epic 3 days.  Soon we shall publish the results of the sequencing on the farmer for the Lukuakua farmers.

Sierra Leone: The second week of the trip took us to Sierra Leone at the invitation of His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and his chief Innovation Officer, Dr David Moinina Sengeh- who is also a Senior TED Fellow along with CVAP’s Dr. Laura Boykin. Laura met the pair at TED 2019 where HE gave a TED talk on innovation to drive change. More about this meeting can be found here. We conducted some research on AI cassava disease recognition with David’s DTSI team and Dr. Alusaine Samura- who is a cassava disease expert. Stay tuned for those results!

In addition, we carried out training of 60+ scientists on the Oxford Nanopore technologies – flow cell loading, library preparation and we generated sequence data.

News reports on the visit can be found here and here.

Brenda presents at the UN Solutions Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

Team member Brenda Muga presented our solution to ending hunger at a United Nations event in Nairobi Kenya.

From the event:”Approximately 800 million people rely on the Cassava plant, as a source of food and/or a source of income. But Cassava is being devastated by two viruses across East Africa, both transmitted by the whitefly: Cassava mosaic disease and Cassava brown streak disease. Brenda Muga, a young scientist, and her team at the Cassava Virus Action Project (CVAP), have the audacious goal to save the cassava plant and, in the process, build infrastructure and scientific capacity to handle any crop disease outbreak or pandemic in East Africa. Using the latest technologies, such as pocket DNA sequencing and supercomputing, CVAP can almost instantly diagnose the health of crops in the field — a process that used to take 3 months. CVAP also strives to achieve equity in science, as team members are based in the national labs of each country, ensuring that the voices of local scientists are heard. Through these paradigm shifts, CVAP aims to positively impact the lives of 10 million farmers and their families within the next 6 years, and equip East Africa with the tools and resilience needed to stop outbreaks of deadly pathogens.”