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The  Nigerian Man Who Developed Cancer goggles That Makes Cancer Treatment Easier

 

Samuel Achilefu, PhD is a Nigerian-born Professor of Radiography and Biomedical engineering at Washington University.  Achilefu  and his team developed cancer goggles that aided  surgeons  to see clearly  and remove cancer cells.


When dye is injected into a patient’s tumor, cancerous cells glow when viewed with the goggles and infrared light. The technology, which awaits further testing, has been used successfully on patients to ensure no stray tumor cells remain after surgery. 


Achilefu, who was installed Jan. 28 as the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, also is a Siteman Cancer Center research member. He and his wife, Nnena, have been married 21 years. They have a daughter, Chisara, 19, who attends Washington University, and son, Kelechi, 16. 
Achilefu won the prestigious  St. Louis Award for his cancer-seeing glasses. Achilefu, 53, discussed his journey from childhood to the development of his cancer-seeing goggles, to what he hopes is yet to come.

 


Image result for samuel achilefu



Tell us about your youth


I was born in northern Nigeria in the 1960s to Igbo parents. My dad worked in hospitals and clinics in the northern part of Nigeria until the civil war broke out in 1967. I was only 4 or 5 at the time. We had to migrate from the north to our ancestral home in the east, where our tribe, called the Igbos, live. That’s where we stayed until the civil war ended in 1970.



As a young boy, what did you think of that experience?


You just wondered why you went from having everything to having almost nothing. Fortunately, my uncle housed us and made us comfortable when we migrated back like refugees. It felt weird to go from having a house with a room you call your own to having to share with many people. After about a year, my dad built a house where we settled.



How have your cultural and familial traditions influenced you?


Respect for elders is supreme. We don’t call them by their first names; you have to use a courtesy title. Another tradition I appreciate is the belief that hard work pays off. Nobody’s going to care for you unless you take a step forward on your own. Community service is a virtue I cherish.




You’re a prolific researcher and academic writer. Perhaps that’s another way your culture has influenced you?


My dad was a model for that. I wish he were still alive today. Every day at 5 o’clock he was up. He would do prayer with the family, then do household chores before leaving for work. When he came back, he made sure everybody had their homework done. He was either reading or listening to news or writing. He was the epitome of a smart and hard worker. It was in his DNA. He had an incredible passion for learning. With limited resources, his mom struggled to put him through elementary school in an era when strong and brave youngsters like him were strongly encouraged to hunt and farm. My mom also worked hard. She anchored the family, instilling self-discipline and ethical standards in our lives.




Yes, your mother came from Nigeria last year when you received the St. Louis Award, a recognition of the positive reflection your achievements have had on the community.


Her visit brightened my day when I received the award. During my childhood, my mom carried the burden of raising me. The civil war separated my dad and mom geographically for about 18 months. My mom didn’t know if my dad and elder siblings were alive or dead. It was a terrifying time. She showed strength. We knew she was dying inside, but she never showed weakness by worrying aloud where my dad was or when he would come back. My heart melted when I saw her crying profusely one day. We were dislodged from our home in the east because the area became a war front. We walked for days, trying to find safety somewhere and sleeping in public camps like refugees. She then saw a relative with his entire family in the same camp. That was when she broke down in tears – “Where is my husband and other kids?” God bless her. I’m glad she stayed strong for us.



After the war ended, what was life like for your family?


Many families lost loved ones in the war. We didn’t, and we were grateful for this outcome. As a child, I was aware of the dangers of booby traps everywhere and that a simple trip to the store could be your last. Our family came back together intact. It was a huge relief for me. My dad was big on education. He wanted to make sure we continued with school. The war delayed everyone by a number of years. I was one of the few fortunate students allowed to jump classes based on performance so I could catch up to where I belonged. What are some other memories?




What are some other memories?


We had to make our own toys, which I enjoyed. I also loved the folk stories we heard, playing at night under moonlight, experiencing community life, and learning my native Ibo language. If there is a silver lining at all, the civil war provided me the opportunity to live in a village setting for three years, appreciate the opportunities I have today, and realize that nothing is permanent. I also learned how artistic people can be. They were able to create something out of nothing – baskets from trees and fans from small nylon fibers.





What was your path forward?


I was very fortunate. After attending college in Nigeria, I was one of five Nigerians who received a French government scholarship to attend graduate school in France, where I received a PhD in molecular and materials chemistry at the University of Nancy.





How did radiology enter your plans?


Imaging science was not part of my career plan, which is why I tell our graduate students that a PhD is a license to explore new frontiers in research and teaching. Your initial training is not a confining factor. A PhD represents a higher calling. It’s a doctor of philosophy because we are all philosophers. The training empowers you to believe you can find solutions to larger questions. Imaging wasn’t in the picture when I did my postdoctoral training at Oxford University in England, either. I trained in the interface between chemistry and hematology, working on developing blood substitutes. The research focused on applying some concepts from my graduate training to design and develop molecules that could efficiently trap and selectively release oxygen for use as blood substitutes in critical-care settings.




What convinced you to come?


First, loyalty – my mentor was so nice to me I couldn’t say no – and then an incredible opportunity. Working in the Discovery Research Department was like working at a university without having to write grant proposals. Naturally, I did not want to move from academia to industry, but my seven-year span there provided me a wealth of unique experiences that have guided my research in academia today. You’ve said your cancer goggles were partially inspired by tracers on cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf War. Talk about how past experiences can spark a potential solution for a seemingly unrelated problem.


I approach scientific problems by framing them into testable hypotheses. Then I explore different approaches to solve the problem. If additional expertise is needed, I search for the best collaborators to fill the gap. We then design the best experimental method to address the question, guided by our hypothesis. This strategy is not confining; it can be applied in diverse areas of life endeavors. Washington University is a great place for idea incubation and collaboration, opening doors to applying known concepts to new areas of research.


What else are you working on?


I want to play a role in eradicating cancer or making it a manageable disease. Toward this goal, we have developed a new approach to kill cancer cells, independent of the cancer type. There is a method of killing cancer with light – photodynamic therapy. People use it to treat superficial cancers, such as skin cancer, because the cancer has to be reachable by light to activate a light-sensitive drug. Or you can use an endoscope to introduce light to activate and kill cancer cells inside the body. We’ve discovered a new approach of using existing radiopharmaceuticals to create a light source within the tumor cells. The light stimulates the light-sensitive drug in cancer cells, converting them into highly toxic drugs. Meanwhile, negative effects on neighboring healthy tissue are minimized. We have tested this concept with success in animal models of cancer and plan to move into human studies in future.



What nonscientific interests are on your to-do list?


Looking back at my childhood, I remember seeing some exceptionally smart kids in the village school I attended during the Nigerian civil war. But they never had the opportunity to move forward. Can you imagine what the world would look like if they had the opportunity to fulfill their dreams? This thought has haunted me through my adult life. My dad sponsored many students when he was alive. I would like to do the same for college students, but in a different way. I envision creating an institute for global innovation in education and training, with talent searches for smart kids in low-resource areas of the world playing a central role. Depending on resources, a specified number of these kids will be identified yearly for comprehensive training and support through college. Regional centers will allow us to work directly with the locals. I also would like to inspire young ones to attain greater heights. I am sure these events will keep me busy through life!

 

credit:  Washington University

 

The White House


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release


February 15, 2017

 

 

Readout of the President’s Call with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

 


President Donald J. Trump spoke this week with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to discuss the strong cooperation between the United States and Nigeria, including on shared security, economic, and governance priorities.  President Trump underscored the importance the United States places on its relationship with Nigeria, and he expressed interest in working with President Buhari to expand the strong partnership.  The leaders agreed to continue close coordination and cooperation in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria and worldwide.  President Trump expressed support for the sale of aircraft from the United States to support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.  President Trump thanked President Buhari for the leadership he has exercised in the region and emphasized the importance of a strong, secure, and prosperous Nigeria that continues to lead in the region and in international forums.

Dwindling Peace as a deterrent to foreign Investments and Economic Progress


Peace is good for business and peace is the dwindling capital that Africa lacks. No place can thrive with trade, industry and commerce without quantifiable peace. For Africa to compete for capital and investments, she must be able to attain and maintain a sustainable quantifiable peace.


Africa is bedeviled with political instability due to lack of peace manifested by ubiquitous wars and intra disruption among many countries in Africa. The paucity of peace makes it difficult for Africa to progress and advance economically. The absence of peace in Africa and among many African countries makes it nearly impossible for attraction of investments to see the light of the day. The resistant of investors do not involve only the attraction of foreign capital but connotes domestic African investors who are hesitant and adamant of putting their resources in the continent.


This development encourages and booster capital flight and the shunning and abandonment of the African landscape. In globalized economy no one that understand how capital function in free enterprise can blame capitalist and investors for sending their capitals to a conducive environment where they can expect appreciative returns and safety.



Take a country like Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa is endowed with both natural and human capital but rudimentary deterrence including paucity of quantifiable peace becomes a stumbling block to sustainable economic progress. The problems of urban crimes, kidnapping  and political uprising especially the problems of Boko Haram and Niger delta deter foreign investments and trigger capital flight.



Peace can be quantified in the sense that there is a repository of peace that a nation needs to make capitalism and free enterprise functional. Safety of investment is necessary for sustainable economic growth. Peace can be measured with regards to the crime rate, mini-wars and political disturbances which can become a threat to trade and commerce in a given area. In most industrialized and advanced nations they enjoy high quantifiable peace that allow their economic advancement to be sustainable.



Most third world countries have low quantifiable peace that abhors economic progress and creates infertile landscape for investments. These rich countries including USA, Japan, Germany and others can maintain a sustainable economy because they do not have a major internal disturbances, ubiquitous crimes and internal uprising that can deter economic progress and development. This is not say that they do not have problems of crimes and political turmoil but they can mange their internal issue to a barest minimum that poses no threat to free market and capitalism. They have organized structural architecture that is capable of taming and restructuring peculiarity and abnormality in their system.




The problems of low quantifiable peace associated with developing nation is a reality because they can not sustain economic progress for a prolong time. At a certain period one of these developing countries will be in the news for making progress with affirmative economic indices then the next period they become destabilizes due to instability brought either by religious or political disturbances or due to high level of crimes.




In this case, these countries especially in the South of Sahara cannot manage the internal conflicts and the uprising of internal mobs that are claiming grievances to ethnic oppression therefore are seeking self determination. The major issue is that countries with low quantifiable peace do not pose the structures and channels to resolve internal conflicts nor do they have resources and know-how to manage those ills that are confronting economic advancement in their respective countries. The courts, laws and legislation are outdated, weak and flimsy to make a real impact on the polity and status quo.



Often, some African countries campaign for investments by rebranding their countries but they fail because they have not attacked the crux of the matter which is political instability impelled by paucity of peace . They must first and foremost quenched the fire engulfing their countries before seeking for investments and attraction of capitals. The former US Secretary of State once emphasized that capital love to go to where it is loved and pampered. African landscape have not done the necessary thing needed to receive capital- making it safe and happy, to stay put without migrating to the greener pasture.

 

 


Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning, including tagteam Harvard Education. www.afripol.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

RE: Governor Okowa begs western countries to invest in the Niger delta


“Attracting this money isn't easy. Capital is a coward. It flees from corruption and bad policies, conflict and unpredictability. It shuns ignorance, disease and illiteracy. Capital goes where it is welcomed and where investors can be confident of a return on the resources they have put at risk. It goes to countries where women can work, children can read, and entrepreneurs can dream. “
-  Colin L. Powell, former US Secretary of State




No logical individual can deny that Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is not doing his possible best to ameliorate the living standard of the suffering masses of his state  and probably the entire Niger Delta region.  And this was buttressed when United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright paid him a courtesy visit at Asaba, the capital of Delta State.




Governor Okowa appealed to the visiting High Commissioner to compel his fellow countrymen to bring their resources and invest in Niger Delta.  For his effort, Okowa should be acknowledged and appreciated  for his vim dedication and hard work especially for putting the interest of his people on public notice.






Notwithstanding, Okowa must also realized and must be aware that investors do not put their capitals, money and investments on place on altruistic motivations. The primary intention of an investor is to grow his capital and returns, thus making a quantifiable profit that will put a smile on his face and making the laughter of shareholders little crispier and brighter. 

Image result for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa Paul Arkwright



There are factors and criteria that drive investments. Does Delta State,  Niger Delta and Nigeria have what it takes to attract foreign investments?  Beyond the emotional appeal and sentimental sagacity, investors are serious and strong-minded capitalists that are looking for fertile soil to plant their seeds.






As the governor reminded the British Representative, “Delta as a state is blessed with fertile land and rich in oil and gas, and we are encouraging our youths to go into agriculture to be employers of labour; we are giving hope to them." Having those things are most important but creating the conducive environment is key in the competing world of scarcity and choice.





Yes, the governor was right to highlight  the verifiable substances that makes his state attractive for investors. But there are also other essential things that must coupled with the fertile land, oil and gas to make them attractive, which is the presence of durable infrastructures. Where are the 24 hours electricity, good roads, bridges and drinking water?






You cannot ask an investor to invest millions of dollars on dilapidated infrastructures of bad roads, pitch darkness and poorly trained human capital. And expect him to blindly assent and invest his scarce resources. Intrinsically, the most important is peace and tranquility in which governor reassured that “peace has returned to the Niger Delta states.”




Without peace and safety no logical person will put a penny on a place that he is afraid to visit and sleep over a night. Once you put your house in order they will come. 




No one should downplay his gallant effort and good public relation in showcasing his state but to encourage him on his endeavor. My enlightening analysis is not peculiar to Delta State but to entire Nigeria as a country that is obsessive on inviting foreign investors without affirmative result.



Image result for emeka chiakweluEmeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning, including tagteam Harvard Education. www.afripol.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

February 10, 2017       Washington, DC

Ex-President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Meets with the “Nigerian-American Leadership Council (NAL Council)”, in Washington, DC



On Thursday February 2, 2017, Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, met with executives of the Washington-based NAL Council at the US Congress, Washington, DC.


Dr. Jonathan was in Washington to address members of the US Congress’s Africa Sub-Committee/Foreign Affairs Committee, Chaired by US Congressman Chris Smith.  Dr. Jonathan seized the opportunity to apprise US policy-makers and the NAL Council on the current state of affairs in Nigeria; his interest in maintaining political stability in the country; and a brief account of his stewardship and achievements while in office.



The meeting was facilitated by the Africa Sub-Committee at the US Congress.  The Congressional Africa Sub-Committee saw the need for Dr. Jonathan’s additional interaction with the NAL Council as an opportunity, for a frank exchange of ideas, between one of the most influential policy-advisory organizations in the US-Nigeria & Sub-Saharan Africa policy space; and one of Africa’s emerging leading Statesmen, in the guise of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. 




It is anticipated that the closed-door exchange will spur plausible solutions for Nigeria’s ongoing political and economic crisis. 



In his brief, Dr. Jonathan outlined some of his numerous achievements in office, including substantial attempts to alleviate poverty in Northern Nigeria, while keeping the peace in the Niger Delta; through the establishment of educational and skills acquisition centers in Northern Nigeria, among other laudable initiatives.



In his response, the Executive Director of NAL Council, Mr. Okey Mbonu, applauded Dr. Jonathan’s achievements while in office.  Mbonu praised Dr. Jonathans unquestionable commitment to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, by being the first democratically elected president to concede power to an opposition party in Africa’s largest democracy. 



Mr. Mbonu advised the former President on the Council’s non-partisan approach to its work, which included assisting to craft US Policy towards Nigeria, and Sub-Saharan Africa, in the interest of both Nigeria and the United States.  Mr. Mbonu further maintained that the Council’s work transcends partisan affiliations, with the ultimate goal of facilitating a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Nigeria.



RC Charles, Media Relations                                                                                                                                               
NAL Council Washington, DC (Nigerian-American Leadership Council)
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nigerian immigrants in America have its largest population in Houston, Texas and that is where the super bowl 2017 is taking place.  And the son of Nigerian immigrant, Martin Ndubuisi Ifedi will be playing in the super bowl representing Houston, his city of birth, Nigeria and Africa.



One can say without equivocation that the most important date in the National football league (NFL) calendar is the boisterous super bowl. “The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the world. The game is the culmination to a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year.”  More than 100 million people around the world are expected to watch super bowl game.



Houston (Tx) Westside and University of Memphis graduate “Martin Ifedi will experience a football player's dream Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium, representing the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, less than 20 miles from his alma mater,” playing against energetic New England patriots.



“A defensive end, Martin has competed against the league's leading offense in practice and contributed to a six-game winning streak. The Falcons won the NFC with an 11-5 record and defeated Seattle and Green Bay, the latter 44-21 in the NFC championship game. Atlanta reached its second Super Bowl, including a 1999 loss to the Denver Broncos.”




“Martin was drafted by the then-St. Louis Rams in 2015, a seventh-round pick from Memphis. He holds the Tigers' career sack record with 22 ½, highlighted by a junior season of 11 ½ sacks and 14 ½ tackles for loss and all-American Athletic Conference honors in 2013 and 2014.






He contributed to a one-season improvement from 3-9 to 10-3 by his senior year. Off the field, Martin was an all-academic selection, Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and winner of Memphis' Zach Curlin Award, given to the school's top male student-athlete. Martin played during preseason games with the Rams and later spent time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad. Prior to being signed by the Falcons, he was back at Westside between holiday breaks offering advice to Wolves players.”  (Houston Chronicle)



During his college days, playing as University of Memphis defensive end, Martin was named to   Lombardi Award watch list in 2014. And being in super bowl is a result of his vim athleticism and God watching over him.


Germain Ifedi Ifedi Family of Umuoji, Anambra State



Martin Ifedi is not the only Ifedi in NFL, his younger brother Germain Ifedi made the first round pick of the American National Football League (NFL) 2016 and was drafted by Seahawk Seattle. Their parents Ben and Victoria Ifedi are immigrants from Umuoji, Anambra State, Nigeria.



Image result for emeka chiakweluEmeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning, including tagteam Harvard Education. www.afripol.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Credits: Houston Chronicle, wikipedia. Afripo

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