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3 Nigerian scientists bags co-winners of 2018 NAS Prize for Life Sciences

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Three distinguished Nigerian scientists have emerged co-winners of the 2018 Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) gold medal prize for life sciences.

This followed their outstanding research works in the area of molecular genetics and biotechnology addressed to solving significant health problems affecting mankind.

Professor Gabriel Ogunmola, a Fellow of Academy of Science (FAS) and Chairman, 2018 NAS Science Prize Committee, announced this during a press briefing in Lagos on Thursday.

He named the awardees as Professor Wasiu Lamre Adeyemo from University of Lagos, Dr. Emmanuel Oluwadare Balogun, from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and Professor Temidayo Ogundiran from University of Ibadan.

Prof. Ogunmola said the co-winners were selected for their significant scientific achievements in using the cutting edge and expertise of molecular genetics to understand the basis of cleft lip and palate (CLP) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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This, he stressed, involved an “ingenious application of a template for developing transgenic tse-tse flies to achieve biological control of trypanosomiasis and advanced an original contribution to the understanding genetic disparity in cancer between people of African descent and other races.”

While highlighting the in-depth scientific researches and discoveries made by the scientists, Prof. Ogunmola decried the insignificant financial contributions of the Federal Government to support research works in Nigerian institutions of higher learning.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to revive the Science Innovation Fund (SIF) initiated during former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration to boost government support for scientific researches and retooling of science laboratories, adding that this would also address the problem of brain drain from the country.

Ogunmola explained that Professor Adeyemo’s research had been in the area of molecular genetics of the environmental aetiology of cleft lip and palate (CLP) and craniofacial defects, which he said had promoted collaborative activities between University of Lagos, University of Iowa, University of Pittsburgh, University of Dundee, and other African Universities.

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He added that Professor Adeyemo and his research group had taken several giant steps towards understanding the genetic causes on non-syndromic clefts in Nigeria and African populations.

The group, he added, had been able to genotype 4,000 samples from Sub-Sahara Africa using a global power chip with 2.2 SNPs for the first genome-wide association studies GWAS on orofacial cleft in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia) for orofacial cleft.

According to Ogunmola, another co-awardee, Dr. Balogun’s expertise cut across the life sciences and focused on molecular parasitology, Structural, Biology, and Genomics, applying them for drug discovery studies against African endemic tropical diseases.

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He stressed that his research group found that the midgat of mosquitoes contains a 45 k Da glycoprotein that is capable of killing trypanosomes.

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