Dr. Christopher Larbie of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology and Dr. Anthony Afum-Agyei Awuah of the Department of Molecular Medicine and postdoctoral research fellow with the Global Health and Infectious Disease Research Group at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have been selected as part of the 6th cohort Affiliates of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). They were selected among 40 young scientists from all parts of the continent after a competitive and rigorous selection process of members who have excelled in their various fields of expertise.
The Affiliate programme will support the development of African early and mid-career scientists into world-class research leaders who will contribute to the Academy’s vision of transforming lives through sciences.
The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation whose vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. Their tripartite mandate is recognising excellence through The AAS’ highly prestigious fellowship and award schemes, providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) strategies and policies and implementing key Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges.
Dr. Christopher Larbie holds a BSc and Ph.D. in Biochemistry focusing on pharmacological and toxicological evaluation of medicinal plants for managing drug-induced liver injury from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. He was a Fulbright African Research postdoctoral scientist at the National Centre for Natural Products Research, University of Mississippi, USA, from December 2018 to May 2019 under the Distinguished Professor of Pharmacognosy, Prof. Dr. Ikhlas A. Khan. He is the PI of the HepatoRenal group and Oxidative Stress Laboratory of the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. His research interest is in drug-induced liver and kidney infections using invitro and in vivo techniques to identify medicinal plants and neglected indigenous fruits and spices with a potential of protective and curative effects on animal models of liver and kidney infections. His research interests further include the development of animal models for diabesity (coexistence of diabetes and obesity), site-specific cancers, and clinical evaluation of characterized medicinal products for human diseases. Experimental techniques employed include phytochemical screening for natural products, haematological and biochemical assessment, histological and immunohistochemical assessment of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. He has trained over thirty (30) postgraduate students (Ph.D., MPhil, MSc) in Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Human Nutrition and over sixty (60) undergraduate students with research funding from the KNUST Research Fund, support from mentors, and other personal sources. Dr. Larbie has contributed to over 50 research papers and presented papers at several national and a few international conferences. He is passionate about mentoring the next generation of medicinal plant biochemists and is proud of his past students who are also university teachers, scientists, and in other Universities at various stages of doctoral and post-doctoral programmes.
Dr. Anthony Afum-Adjei Awuah started his career with a degree in Biochemistry from the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, KNUST and joined the EOD working group at KCCR to do his PhD in Immunology, investigating the role of immune modulatory molecules in the immunopathogenesis of tuberculosis. After his PhD, he started his postdoc with the same group at KCCR where he developed means to improve the use of interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) to diagnose TB in children. He continued to do another postdoc training at Centre Muraz in Burkina through the West Africa Health Research Network where he trained in clinical research and worked with hidden populations who are at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS. From there, he won a WHO/TDR fellowship grant to train in vaccinology and vaccine trials at the GSK vaccine in Siena, Italy. He worked with a preclinical vaccine group investigating the mechanism of action for novel vaccines and how to improve candidate vaccine immunogenicity. He was part of the 2017 cohort of the Next Generation Scientist program to train young emerging scientists in clinical research at the headquarter of Novartis Pharma in Basel. He has extensive experience in the design, planning and conduct of clinical research. His research areas include infectious diseases, immunology, vaccinology and clinical research. He is currently involved in running several studies. This includes studies in clinical characterization of COVID-19, seroprevalence study on COVID-19 and a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of existing therapies for COVID-19 among others.
Management of KNUST congratulates the two scientists on their noble achievements.