Dr. Malachy Okeke: From Norway with Mission to Help Make AUN Center of Excellence in Biomedical Research

Dr. Malachy Okeke: From Norway with Mission to Help Make AUN Center of Excellence in Biomedical Research

A new faculty member in the Natural & Environmental Sciences program (NES), Dr. Malachy Ifeanyi Okeke, has expressed great joy as he joins the diverse community of academics at AUN.

“My impression of AUN is very good. I did a lot of background research on the school before I accepted the offer, and what I expected is what I have met.”

The University of Nigeria first-class graduate in Microbiology and valedictorian for the class of 1992 said although a lot  needs to be done in the area of research, he is convinced that AUN’s teaching and learning facilities can rival those of many other institutions at home and abroad.

“The facilities for learning are pretty good; so, it will not be an exaggeration to say that it is as good as where I am coming from!

“I am pretty happy to be here, and I look forward to making a significant contribution, I am pretty sure we will make AUN much more competitive, and globally recognized, especially in research,” said the top scholar, who has spent more than 18 years in Europe.

Malachy Okeke received his Ph.D. from the University of Tromsø, Norway, the largest research and educational institution in Northern Norway. He returned to Nigeria to share his skills and give back to his home country and continent by using local elements found here to solve prevalent health problems.

“When I was over there (in Norway), I happened to be an expert for the center that regulates medicine in Europe, and part of what I saw was that the problem of infectious diseases and neoplasms in Africa was not a priority for European and American pharmaceutical companies. They were interested in what was happening in Paris, Oslo, and London. I didn’t feel very happy about it. I felt that the only way I can contribute is to come here, and work with the local things we find here.”

The Nigerian-born microbiologist, whose research interests include genomics, recombinant vaccines, antimicrobials, and bioinformatics, is confident that AUN has the potential to harness ideas and programs he has brought along to help enrich the NES program.

“I hope that we should be able to make NES an international center of excellence in biomedical research.”

Professor Okeke said he is very impressed with the level of commitment to biological sciences “the students are enthusiastic and fascinated about genes and gene expression.”

He envisages that in the near future AUN will be able to deploy the power of genomics in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases and cancer, including Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Lassa fever, Ebola, breast and prostate cancer here at NES molecular biology laboratory.

“So, I think we have the skills here, to have a good center of excellence and develop effective vaccines and drugs against infectious diseases and cancers that are prevalent in Nigeria.”

“What I see here is excellent, but there are other models to make students learn more because I believe that if your students go on to become better than you, then the society is evolving in the right direction.”

The Assistant professor of Biology who believes that science and arts can rely on each other to find solutions to health and societal problems commended AUN’s development mantra. He said that a sustainable university is one, which leaves its footprints on the community.

“Whatever you do, even if you are the best scientist in the world, if your work doesn’t make an impact on the society, then it lacks sustainability.”

Malachy Ifeanyi Okeke received his Ph.D. from the University of Tromsø, where he taught and led numerous research projects on virus-vectored vaccines. He has published several peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals and is an accredited reviewer in reputable biomedical journals. His research work has over 600 citations on Google Scholar.

Dr. Okeke has taught courses in different disciplines of biomedical sciences in institutions across Norway and Nigeria.

His current research interest is in the development of recombinant vaccines against infectious diseases and cancers prevalent in Nigeria and Africa.

Reported by Togor Passa