Bridging Gaps in the ELSI of Data Science Health Research in Nigeria (BridgELSI)
Data science is poised to impact scientific research, innovation, discovery and healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa
(SSA) because of the rapid growth of infrastructure such as cell phones and computers, and the availability of
technologies like Artificial Intelligence. These methods and resources present huge opportunities to leapfrog
current research, public health and clinical care in Africa by utilizing data science to address the huge burden of
communicable and non-communicable diseases in SSA.
Despite these promises however, there are substantial concerns about the ethical, legal and social implications
(ELSI) of data science research in SSA. These concerns arise from the use of conventional and unconventional
data; the methods for generating, manipulating, storing, sharing and utilizing data in data science; the limitations
of current informed consent models in these scenarios and opportunities for novel strategies for legal oversight
of the ELSI of data science research in Nigeria.
In this collaborative project between the Center for Bioethics and Research (CBR), Nigeria, George Washington
University, DC and University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), we will evaluate current legal
instruments, guidelines and frameworks, and their implementation, and use these to develop new and innovative
governance frameworks to support data science health research in Nigeria. We will also implement mixed
research methods to prospectively evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) of data scientists and
ethics committees to current and emerging ELSI of data science research in Nigeria. Given the novelty of data
science in Nigeria, we will implement general and specific, short and medium-term training in ethics of data
science research in Nigeria for data science researchers and an introduction to data science for members of
ethics committees reviewing data science research projects.