New Fellowships Bring African Scientists to Train at NIH
Last year, Dr. Idowu Aimola was teaching biochemistry at the largest university in Nigeria. Genomic research is rare there, he said, and applying data science to that research isn’t even mentioned in the curriculum. Today, he’s learning those skills in the lab of NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.
Aimola is one of 10 researchers participating in a new program called the African Postdoctoral Training Initiative (APTI). Fellows will spend 2 years in the lab of an NIH senior investigator, learning cutting-edge science while working on a research project of mutual interest. The immersion is intended to give the fellows the expertise to become research leaders when they return home and to foster collaborations between NIH scientists and institutions in Africa.
“I feel extremely fortunate. It’s a huge deal to me,” said Aimola, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and previously spent 9 months training in the U.S. through a Fulbright program. Working in Collins’ lab, Aimola will be engaged in high-tech single-cell biology. His project will try to understand why some people are predisposed to diabetes and he’ll use the techniques he’s learning to investigate how insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas are affected by genetic risk factors.