UK-Based Nigerian Doctor Wins Fulbright Award

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A Nigerian-born medical doctor resident in the UK has received a Fulbright–Nursten Award in Medical Studies.

Norris Igbineweka, the recipient of the award, will be able to undertake research at the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA, one of the most prestigious worldwide.

The postgraduate-level award is named in memory of esteemed Fulbright alumnus Dr Harry Nursten, who was a major force in establishing Food Science research in UK universities. It is given to one UK citizen each year seeking a postgraduate degree in any aspect of medical studies.

Igbineweka will study genetic factors and biomarkers of clinical variability observed in sickle cell disease (SCD) at NIH.

He will be undertaking laboratory research focusing on genetic variability in complications of SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), as well as variability seen in response to hydroxyurea treatment.

Finding these factors will contribute to the development of genetic markers to predict severity in SCD as well as target gene therapy.

Igbineweka was selected with 46 other British grantees who met with the US Ambassador, Matthew Barzun at his official London residence, Winfield House, before departing for the U.S.

Igbineweka said of the award: “I am astonished and deeply honoured in receiving a Fulbright Scholarship. Sickle cell disease is one of the commonest single gene disorders globally. Although, individuals with the disease have the same genetic mutation, clinical manifestation is variable amongst these individuals in similar fashion to type 2 diabetes. My work as a Fulbright Scholar will seek to understand the genetic determinants and biomarkers for this variability. I hope this work will contribute to the development of genetic predictors of disease severity and eventually targeted gene therapy.

Igbineweka, who emigrated from Benin City, Edo state with his parents to London as a child, was a star student throughout his education.

Following an outstanding GCSE result gained from the London Nautical Secondary School, he was awarded an HSBC scholarship to attend City of London School sixth-form. His excellent A-level results earned him a place to study Medicine at King’s College London (KCL).

He also undertook an intercalated BSc in Anthropology at the University College London (UCL) achieving a First Class Honours.

He was placed on the UCL Dean’s List and awarded the Murray Last Prize for the highest departmental mark for that academic year.

He gained an Academic Foundation Programme position in Haematology at Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust as well as subsequently being awarded an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Haematology and core medical training at Kent, Surrey & Sussex Deanery enabling him to combine research with clinical training. He is currently completing an MRes in research at the University of Brighton.

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