Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I grew up in a city called Abeokuta, very close to Lagos in Nigeria. I moved to Lagos in 2010 for my master’s degree and settled there before moving to London in 2020. I obtained my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, Nigeria in 2017 and my thesis focused on genetic markers that could predict stroke risk in children with sickle cell disease.
Prior to joining King’s, I worked as molecular biologist in the prenatal diagnosis laboratory of the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria in Lagos. I am very passionate about sickle cell disease research because I have seen how devastating it can be, especially in Nigeria where at least half of the affected persons across the globe reside.
I’m currently a Research Associate in Stephan Menzel’s group at the Rayne Institute, Denmark Hill Campus. Our group is dedicated to investigating the genetics of sickle cell disease.
What do you think people in the School would find most surprising about you?
I have never taken coffee.
Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?
In my current project, I’m investigating novel genetic modifiers of persistence of fetal haemoglobin in sickle cell disease using patient cohorts from Africa and the UK for genome-wide association study. Our goal is to identify novel pathways for the development of affordable treatments that will alleviate the burdens of this condition, which is a major cause of childhood disability and mortality, especially in sub-Sahara Africa.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I look forward to having a permanent position in academia, leading my group in major research activities on sickle cell disease.
What do you do with your time outside academia?
I enjoy going to Church, as well as listening to gospel songs.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Reaching a major milestone in our research project and publishing our findings in great journals.
Who inspires you most and why?
My supervisor, Dr Stephan Menzel, is my role model. He is an international leader in sickle cell disease research. I have always admired him since I learnt about his discovery which has now become a major tool of genome editing for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia. It’s been a great privilege to work under him.
He’s very open, approachable, and caring. He’s a great listener and gives me opportunities to grow. We spend a lot of time together discussing our projects and career opportunities. Dr Menzel is an exceptional leader and mentor.
What is something positive that has happened to you in 2021?
When I joined King’s, I didn’t come with my family. It was difficult living without them, especially when the pandemic guidelines limited social interactions and the people you did see were always wearing face coverings. But it was an exciting moment for me when I was reunited with them a year later.
What is your favourite thing about working at King’s?
It’s evident that King’s is a world class university in all areas. I enjoy the opportunities for personal and career development provided by King’s, especially the courses regularly organised by the Centre for Research Staff Development. I am also very happy to be surrounded with my supportive colleagues.
Favourite scientist: Albert Einstein
Favourite dish: Beans and fried plantain
One thing you could not go a day without: Thinking about my lovely wife and children
Describe yourself in three words…: Selfless, diligent, and dependable
Most-used emoji: Smiling face 😊