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  • Diaspora - United States
  • Updated: Mar 09, 2021

#WeekendWithNigerianInDiaspora: From Diagnostic Medicine To DNA Forensics For Criminal Justice, Nigeria Has Biotech Needs — Adenmosun

#WeekendWithNigerianInDiaspora: From Diagnostic Medicine To

To make Nigeria a great country, its people, home and abroad, must play their role  In thinking, innovating and proffering workable solutions.  Today, Olumide Adenmosun, a Professor of Biology at the Florida Atlantic University (USA) tells Bada Yusuf Amoo how innovations in advance level biology will benefit the country in many ways and solve the problems of crime extensively.

Adenmosun "plans to float a DNA forensics company (DNAEnsemble)" in Nigeria because several fields of biology "can be beneficial to our country, Nigeria, as we have several biotech needs from diagnostic medicine to DNA forensics for criminal justice, among others."

Read the full interview below:

Tell us about your growing up in Nigeria?

I was born and raised in Nigeria. The first 25years of my life, I had known no other place as home but Nigeria. I was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State to Mr. Kenneth Ademola Adenmosun (of blessed memory) and Mrs Victoria Abiade Adenmosun in 1986. Both my parents were civil servants working for the Ogun State government. My mum is a retired primary school teacher and my dad worked at one of the state ministries. My dad especially loved education, though he wasn’t privileged to get a University degree himself, he ensured we attended good schools and earned at least a bachelor’s degree. I did not have so much of an adventurous upbringing but one way or the other it appeared that my siblings and I were lucky to have had good parents who devoted their lives to the upbringing of their children. We also had strong Christian roots, and my mum was the chairman of that department. While there was the tendency for us (in our formative years) as with every child – to get damaged and drift away, my siblings and I seemed to have eventually turned out ok. And these we largely attribute to God and our parents.  

READ ALSO: Four Nigerians In Diaspora Making Waves

We would like to know about your journey to Florida

I had completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology in 2006 as one of the pioneering students at Bowen University, Iwo – a missionary higher educational institution belonging to the Nigerian Baptist Convention. I had also completed the mandatory National Youth Service in 2008 at Katsina State in northern Nigeria where I had worked as a Microbiologist at the Ajiwa Plant of Katsina State Water Board. It was one of the memorable moments of my life where I had met a lot of good people (other corp members) with whom we had remained friends till date. And if it is safe, I would want my children to also have that experience of serving their home-country someday. Fast forward from National Youth Service, I would land my first job as an Executive Assistant – Research at a small publishing firm in Lagos in 2009. I later moved on to a second job as an Embryologist Trainee in 2010 at one of the popular IVF clinics in Lagos. Then I later departed to start PR consulting by myself in 2011 for a few other IVF clinics in Lagos, Abuja, and Osun States – combining my earlier experiences in publishing and science to help my clients attract more clientele. I used to run educational PR inserts for a few IVF clinics in National dailies like the Guardian and The Punch Newspapers. Then amid trying to find a niche for myself, a Nigerian Biotechnologist from the UK (also a PhD student then) who had randomly read about me somewhere, connected with me on Facebook (now Dr. Jide Ojo) and recommended me for graduate studies in the USA. I never knew him from Adam. We got talking and the rest was history. I later got to be admitted for a Masters program in Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) where I had got a Graduate Teaching Assistantship as part of my admissions package at the State University. The offer avails us some scholarships, monthly stipends and 80% tuition waiver by the University. I had worked with a smart Nigerian lady professor – Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu. She would be my first academic advisor in the USA. Following my initial Masters in Biology from 2012 – 2013, I returned to Nigeria in 2014 to teach at my alma mater (Bowen University) as a Visiting Assistant Lecturer at the same department where I had graduated from in 2006. I would later return again to FAU for additional graduate studies in 2015. Since then I had additionally completed an MBA in International Business, a Graduate Certificate in Bioengineering and now concluding a PhD in Integrative Biology later this Summer, 2021 by God’s grace.     

What are your greatest challenges in your Education in the United States, particularly your Doctoral Studies?

Well, as with most science doctoral research programs even in the USA, funding is a major challenge to get an adequate doctoral research studies completed. Although the University tries its best to make resources available – in fellowships, grants, equipment and technical oversight from academic advisors, they almost never seem to be enough to get you to a finish line. However, you are still able to achieve the little you can in scholastic engagements through the duration of your program with such aids. In the process, I have been able to also collaborate and work with institutions affiliated with the University via a Curriculum Practice Training arrangement where I get to further hone my practical and professional skills as much as I can.   

When are you expected to be done?

By God’s grace, I should be done with the doctoral program by the end of our extended summer semester this year – with a doctoral thesis defense.

Does biology have a future in Africa, and Nigeria in particular?

Well, it depends on what area of application. Biology is not just an educational program to merely train teachers anymore as it is multifaceted. With my training in Biological Sciences, having earlier been trained as a Microbiologist at Bowen University, Nigeria, I had explored and worked in other applicable sectors in the USA such as DNA Forensics, Clinical Embryology and Reproductive Genetics. I currently run a small biotech startup from Nigeria (Eurekan Biotechnologies) and plan to float a DNA forensics company (DNAEnsemble) much later. All these can be beneficial to our country Nigeria as we have several biotech needs from diagnostic medicine to DNA forensics for criminal justice, among others.  

What are some culture shocks you experience on getting to Florida and how soon did you get used to the system?

It was initially difficult adjusting to their kind of food. The kind of bread sandwich (bread and butter) I thought was a rich man’s food in Nigeria is actually a “poverty” food in the USA. Their kind of typical 1-foot long bread sandwich (Subway) seemed to me like what a glutton would finish at one sitting with a large cup of fountain coke. And when I used to attend classes for my course work, no matter how clear and sound I thought my English was, it was always with a heavy accent to them. Even when I later became an instructor of record teaching large lecture classes in amphitheaters, I would always have a SPOT (Student Perception of Teaching) review that the professor had a thick African accent. Back then in 2012 when I just arrived, I would feel embarrassed when people initiating a conversation with you in the bus would make a remark at the end of the conversation that: “your English sounds good by the way - for an African”. But I had later got used to them and they do not surprise or upset me anymore.

Many Nigerians have the view that America is a haven, what can you say about that?

Well, it is truly a land of opportunities. While I am not desperate about getting some milestones achieved at all cost as we see some people do – sometimes flouting their immigration rules and policies, my wife and I, and our little daughter take it one step at a time, and we work with the modest benefits and opportunities that our legal status avails us for now. And for that, we are grateful to the American government.

Do you see yourself returning to Nigeria and contributing to its education system or any other sector?

Oh Yes! My wife and I plan to return home sometime in the future. Though we have ongoing businesses in the country, we plan to come back home especially as academics to give back to the country and institutions that gave us a foundational footing.

Are you working on any new innovation?

Yes, we have a couple of scientific and business innovations we are working on.

If yes, tell us about it?

With my doctoral research for instance, I am trying to create a novel Assisted Reproductive Technology that could enable the prevention of certain genetic disorders in our newborns. For instance, there is this issue with “at-risk” couples with certain genetic traits such as sickle cell. If two parents with a sickle cell trait (among blacks) or cystic fibrosis (among whites) in the heterozygous state come together, they may have a 25 percent chance of birthing a child with full-blown sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis with respect to the underlying genetics. I had therefore proposed or currently working on a technology (with the use of microfluidic chips) that could help us achieve genotypic sperm selection to sort out the healthiest sperm cells that would help reduce the chances of birthing babies with such genetic disorders.

 

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