Environmental Factor – April 2022: NIEHS scientists assist visiting colleague to establish laboratory in Nigeria


When Temitope “Temi” Adedeji, Ph.D., came to NIEHS in October 2019, he brought with him a desire to learn as much as he could so that he could transfer that knowledge to students from his country in Nigeria. Five months later, the global pandemic temporarily halted his plans. He has since completed his research and received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (see boxes), and he will return to Nigeria with his own scientific equipment.

Adedeji stands proudly in front of some of the equipment he will use to train the next generation of researchers at the Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw/NIEHS)

“It is wonderful that the intramural scientists of the NIEHS have come together to donate essential scientific equipment to Dr. Adedeji,” said NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, MD. “It will definitely help him start an independent laboratory in Nigeria and ensure its continued productivity.”

When a plan comes to fruition

Paul Wade, Ph.D. “Our young interns could use Adedeji’s journey as an example,” Wade said. “Know what you want, figure out what you need, and execute your plan. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw/NIEHS)

Before Adedeji came to the United States, he was a senior lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria. Since Nigeria does not offer many career opportunities for researchers, many young men and women interested in science have to change fields or take any job they can find to earn a living. Adedeji knew he could help change the situation.

“I wanted to make a difference by giving students and interns the opportunity to have a better training experience,” Adedeji said. “If I could help two kids in the beginning, over time it could become the critical mass that would snowball into something special.”

He wanted up-to-date training in epigenetics, so he contacted Paul Wade, Ph.D., acting head of the NIEHS Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory and head of the Eukaryotic Transcriptional Regulation Group. When Wade invited him to NIEHS as a visiting scholar, the first part of Adedeji’s plan was coming to fruition.

Training in epigenetics

A major interest of Wade’s group is how the Western diet, which is high in fat, influences the risk of colon cancer. Wade’s hypothesis is that the carbon content of high-fat diets influences the epigenome. One way to test this hypothesis is to use a high-fat diet that does not induce obesity, such as the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat but low in sugar.

Equipment for Adedeji's new laboratory Thanks to the generosity of NIEHS researchers, this equipment and more will make the journey to Adedeji’s new research lab in Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw/NIEHS)

Adedeji happily accepted the project and fed four groups of mice a specific diet program: high-fat diet, ketogenic diet, control diet, and low-fat diet. He looked at organ damage and took physiological measurements such as weight and serum insulin hormone levels. He also used Western blots to determine how histone modifications, particularly acylation, change with diet across the genome.

Wade said that before Adedeji leaves the lab, he will link all changes in the epigenome to the specific gene level by performing a test called “cut and label”. It will identify the type of histone modification at each point of the genome depending on the diet.

“Adedeji uses techniques that we implemented in our lab last year and tests a hypothesis that is central to our research,” Wade said.

Equipment donations

Wade said he knew it would be difficult for Adedeji to get scientific equipment in Nigeria, so he encouraged him to take smaller equipment from his lab that was not in use. Wade then emailed all of the NIEHS research group leaders asking if they had any older equipment that was meant to be surplus, and several responded. Head of the NIEHS Immunity, Inflammation and Disease Laboratory Michael Fessler, MD, was all the more useful as it had equipment intended for the institute’s warehouse that was no longer in use. Kim Jones, NIEHS Inventory Manager, gave Adedeji access to surplus equipment and handled paperwork to ensure the institute was operating within NIH donation guidelines. strangers.

“We are thrilled to have played our small part in helping Temi plant these exciting scientific seeds in Nigeria,” Fessler said. Jones added, “It was an honor to have played a part in this process.”

The collaboration will continue

Adedeji is working on a research paper on his work and hopes that he and the NIEHS will work together in the future to improve the pipeline of Nigerian scientists. His long-term goal is to bring Nigerian students to NIEHS to enjoy cutting-edge training.

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