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    A True IBRO Success Story for African Neuroscience

    Pictured above is IBRO 2016 Return Home Fellow Dr Rufus Olusola AKINYEMI (right) receiving the 2016 Bruce S. Schoenberg International Award in neuroepidemiology.

    IBRO 2016 Return Home Fellow, Dr Rufus Olusola Akinyemi (Nigeria), was recently honoured with the 2016 Bruce S. Schoenberg International Award in Neuroepidemiology endowed by GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. and sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the largest association of neurologists in the world. The award ceremony took place this year at the 68th AAN Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. Dr Akinyemi was recognized for the significant work he had performed on cognition after stroke and stroke literacy in Nigeria. The AAN "believes Dr Akinyemi exemplifies the legacy of Dr Bruce Schoenberg* and will perform future epidemiological work that will improve neurological health in Africa."

    Dr Akinyemi acknowledged that this recognition was the direct result of his previous work supported by an IBRO Research Fellowship in 2009-10 at the Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, under the mentorship of Professors Rajesh Kalaria and Adesola Ogunniyi. During that time, Dr Akinyemi was able to establish a clinico-epidemiological cohort of stroke survivors in southwestern Nigeria in a prospective cohort ‘Cognitive Function After Stroke” (CogFAST- Nigeria) Study which aimed at exploring the profile, determinants and natural history of cognitive dysfunction in African stroke survivors.

    The fellowship also enabled him to undertake a parallel clinico–pathological study at Newcastle University and explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms and substrates of cerebral injury underlying cognitive dysfunction after stroke. Some of his initial findings are now published in respected peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Neurological Sciences and Brain. The African cohort also continues to be followed with an accrual of very useful longitudinal data. In Dr Akinyemi's words, his research and most recent AAN award represented “a true success story of IBRO’s efforts in Africa," and he expressed his deepest "thanks to IBRO for providing a platform to advance African neuroscience research."

    Currently, Dr Akinyemi is Senior Research Fellow at the Neuroscience and Ageing Research Unit of the Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His work still focuses on stroke care, research and advocacy, and includes developing the following: A hospital-based multidisciplinary stroke team; clinical and laboratory studies of cognition after stroke; studying the influence of genes on stroke in black populations; a randomized controlled trial on secondary prevention; stroke education for non-neurologists; and development of an indigenous stroke documentary film. He also leads the Abeokuta Stroke Network (ASN) and serves on the Young Stroke Professionals (YSPC) and World Stroke Campaign (WSC) Committees of the World Stroke Organization (WSO) as a representative for Africa.

    This month (June 2016), Dr Akinyemi embarks on his second IBRO fellowship as an IBRO Return Home Fellow. His motivation is the current epidemiological transition in Africa with ageing populations and an escalating burden of non-communicable cardiovascular disorders with the attendant impact on the brain and the paucity of studies that have rigorously evaluated native African brains for vascular and neurodegenerative pathologies. The fellowship will allow Dr Akinyemi to pioneer the process of providing an answer to this fundamental question: What is the quantitative burden of ageing – related vascular, degenerative and mixed pathologies in post-mortem tissue samples obtained from native sub-Saharan Africans? He plans to contextualize this within the framework of other projects he is currently involved in such as the Stroke Investigative Research and Education Network (SIREN), currently the largest study of stroke in Africa which is evaluating genetic and environmental risk factors of stroke in people of African ancestry. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health (USA) as a component of the Human Health and Heredity (H3) Africa Consortium.

    IBRO congratulates Dr Akinyemi on his much deserved recognition and his outstanding research contributions to African neuroscience. We wish him continued success for the future!

    *Dr Bruce Schoenberg (USA) was a specialist in the prevention and control of neurological disorders and head of the neuroepidemiological branch of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicable Disorders and Stroke. He passed away in 1987.

    Learn more about IBRO/ISN Research Fellowships.
    Learn more about IBRO Return Home Fellowships.