Academic and Research Background I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria and I received my undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Lagos. Microbiology and heroic efforts by my professors in college gave me an appreciation of the power of microscopy to interrogate the effects of a world that transpires far beyond the unaided eye. The completion of my undergraduate education coincided with the exciting times ushered in by the final stages of the Human Genome Project. As a result, I decided to pursue graduate education in molecular biology which held the key to understanding the mechanism through which DNA dictated so much about biological life. I moved to the United States and joined the Cellular and Molecular Biology PhD program at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) under the mentorship of Dr. Janis O’Donnell. In addition to being a stellar molecular biologist, Janis combined expertise deep in biochemistry with a passion for classical genetics using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. And imparted all of these skills unto her students. Later in my doctorate studies, I began my training in neuroscience and in Janis’s lab, we helped establish a Drosophila model for gene-environment interactions relevant to Parkinson’s disease. I continued my training in neuroscience during my post-doctoral studies at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA under the mentorship of Dr. David Krantz a psychiatrist and basic science researcher. Training with David, who is an excellent and nurturing mentor with a knack for helping his mentees transition into becoming professors themselves, helped me further appreciate the relevance of basic science, first as an important end unto itself. And secondly as a crucial component in the pipeline to developing viable therapeutic strategies for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. I got the opportunity to interact directly with Parkinson’s disease patients and their caregivers (see here) and to advocate on their behalf in Congress. In David’s lab At UCLA, I developed expertise in pharmacology, optical synaptic physiology, neurotransmitter transporter biology and cell biology. Moreover, through a collaborator with synaptic physiology expert Dr. Felix Schweizer, I trained in electrophysiology which would prove consequential the setup of a rig in my own lab. My research group currently incorporates all of the training that I have received over the years to set a platform to do exciting research and train other scientists.
Mentoring I believe very strongly in training a new generation of neuroscientists from diverse backgrounds including those from underrepresented groups. There are still far too few biomedical researchers from diverse backgrounds represented in the field at all levels; and I would like to contribute to address this issue. My lab seeks to create an environment that not only nurtures the careers of individuals from all backgrounds but also provides an atmosphere in which individuals from different socio-ethnic groups can come together in a manner that can spark scientific discoveries. Beyond efforts in my own lab, I also volunteer with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) the largest gathering of neuroscientists in the world and the efforts of that organization to broaden participation of under-represented group in neuroscience (see here and here)