Bridging Institutional and Continental Gaps through Scientific Excellence
An Interview with Dr. Abiodun Humphrey Adebayo at the Institute of Microbiology
In the Department of Biological Sciences, Covenant University, Nigeria, Dr. Abiodun Adebayo is not only a well-received lecturer, but a renowned researcher, and the recipient of the University’s High Impact Journal Publication Award for three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012.
As a plant researcher, he has been working on natural products by isolating bioactive compounds from medicinal plants for the treatment of major diseases like cancer, liver disorders, bacterial and viral infections. “For instance, some phytochemical components isolated from Ageratum conyzoides L. may help us combat cancerous conditions, while Chrysophyllum albidum has proved effective for liver protection,” he explains.
Dr. Adebayo owes much of his achievements to a year of doctoral study, jointly funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences (CAS-TWS) Fellowship Award, at the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) under CAS in southwest China’s Yunnan Province between March 2008 and February 2009. During that period, under Prof. Tan Ninghua’s supervision, he learnt to use some state-of-the-art experimental facilities and got to know what “an ISI journal” is for the first time.
For Abio, (Abio is Dr. Adebayo’s nickname in Beijing, pronounced similar to a common male name “A-Biao” in China which means strong and energetic), the research atmosphere and laboratory conditions at KIB were very good. He realized that if he wanted to publish good papers in natural products research, he first had to isolate active compounds from plants. He also saw the importance of cooperation with pharmaceutical companies. When he returned to Nigeria in 2009, he had a different perspective and mentality about scientific research.
The study in Kunming gave Abio leverage, to dramatically raise the quality and quantity of his publications. Since then, he had managed to publish over a dozen papers, of which eight were co-authored with Chinese researchers. The research collaboration continued even after he returned to Nigeria.
Abio decided to apply for the CAS-TWAS Fellowship Award again for his postdoctoral study. Searching on the internet for a host supervisor, Abio was immediately attracted by Prof. ZHANG’s resume. He was excited to find that Prof. ZHANG has a lot of research experience on natural products, coinciding with his own interest.
The professor’s expertise and various patents also impressed him. In his own words, “I can’t wait to see what kind of scientist could obtain so many patents as these! For somebody like me, the impetus behind returning to China is by no means only an enterprising spirit or the chance for promotion, but more importantly, the passion for research.”
Building New Bridges for Cooperation and Communication
Dr. Adebayo had expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the CAS-TWAS Fellowship initiative on many occasions. “The Fellowship is like a bridge that leads us to much broader horizons in the scientific world,” he noted.
Today, this Nigerian who has benefited from the “bridge” is making efforts in building “new bridges” between his home institution and CAS.
Before Dr. Adebayo left for China, his Vice-Chancellor and the Director for International Office and Linkages gave him letters to the IMCAS Director-General and the Director of the CAS Bureau of International Cooperation for possible collaboration opportunities.
He has submitted a draft proposal for collaboration between Covenant University and the Chinese Academy Sciences. “The proposal involves, among others, the exchange of faculty and staff members, research facilities utilization, capacity enhancement and research. It also involves joint research grants initiative and a student exchange program”, Dr. Adebayo revealed.
Dr. Adebayo is eager to contribute towards the success of such collaborations. Not long ago he met with Prof. GAO Fu, a leading professor of IMCAS and Deputy Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prof. GAO told him that CDC is planning to set up key laboratories in Kenya and Nigeria. Dr. Adebayo responded with excitement, “My University makes room for such life impacting collaborations.”
As a two-time winner of the CAS-TWAS Fellowship Award, the thoughtful Nigerian offered several constructive suggestions on the CAS-TWAS Fellowship program.
He noted that as there are many more people who wish to benefit from the program, it will be a great opportunity if the scope of the program can be widened to accommodate more recipients. Secondly, he and other fellows do look forward to a family union arrangement by CAS and TWAS during their stay in China; in his words “This visit might take a few weeks”.
Thirdly, for the first-time recipients, it would be necessary to organize a language course before the commencement of their fellowship, as this will acquaint them with the Chinese norms and enable them to adapt to the environment. Lastly, a CAS-TWAS alumni network will be very important to strengthen the fellows’ communication and scientific exchange, especially via the construction of a common laboratory as center of excellence.
Dr. Adebayo has since returned to Covenant University after a successful outing at Beijing.