How I Switched Fields Within Biomedical Sciences

In 2007, precisely during the early first practical classes that I attended in Physiology and Pharmacology, I began to admire working in the laboratory with my glowing white lab coat. From there I started developing a passion for academics and research, but I had no clue what I needed to do to become an academic research scientist. However, I ensured that I maintained cordial relationships with some of the lecturers and lab scientists in my department. It did not take me so long to learn some of the nitty-gritty of research e.g., study design and data analyses, as a student. Before I graduated, I was already assisting some of the final-year students in my department with their projects and thesis writing.  I started my career journey in academic research when I performed a study on Magnifera Indica (1). This area focuses on ethnopharmacology. After I graduated with my first degree in 2010, I enrolled for my Masters degree in Pharmacology. The master’s degree was about 70% research work and 30% coursework.

During this time, my interest in academic research grew rapidly. I got involved in many projects and co-supervised undergraduate students. Occasionally, I volunteered to give tutorials in neuropharmacology. I also assisted postgraduate students in their thesis works. Overall, by then, my research work has expanded beyond ethnopharmacology to neuroscience and toxicology. For example, investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of bioactive compounds e.g., Jobelyn® and some other plant extracts (2–4). One of the studies that caught my attention most at that time was the investigation on monosodium glutamate toxicity because the study revealed some important insights that are quite relevant to the etiologies of various diseases e.g. metabolic disorders (5). Apart from that, I led an investigation into the anti-stress properties of Methly Jasmonates (6,7). At this stage in my career, I knew that I already had a solid foundation for an academic research career. Nonetheless, I did not know what lay ahead for me in the vast growing scientific fields.

Indeed, my interest in anti-stress and neuroscience stirred me towards investigating Parkinson’s disease. I started developing an interest in understanding the genetics, molecular and functional etiologies of the disease. This passion led me to secure a PhD position to investigate the genetics of Parkinson’s disease. I investigated both the epidemiology and the genetics of the disease during my PhD(8). During my PhD programme, I developed advanced data science skills, bioinformatics, science communication and clinical research. After the completion of my PhD in 2019, I realized that I had successfully switched careers within biomedical sciences. The new skills that I have acquired allowed me to perform various clinical and data analysis studies. For example, I investigated various aspects of hearing impairment genetics during my first postdoc  (9–15).

To date, I do not feel that I have switched fields because I am still connected with my formal studies maintaining knowledge and gaining new insights. The field of biomedical sciences is so interwoven that one must be confident to switch around particularly if they are an interest. I am so glad that I developed my passion and got the support that I needed to switch fields to human genetics because I am enjoying what I am doing now and what I have done in the past in the domain of biomedical sciences as I see both lines and dots joining together to make me a prolific genomic medicine scientist.   

 

References

1.         Oluwole OG, Esume C. Anti-inflammatory effects of aqueous extract of Mangifera indica in Wistar rats. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 May 1;26(3):313–5.

2.         Umukoro S, Oluwole OG, Eduviere AT, Adrian OI, Ajayi AM. Jobelyn® exhibited anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and membrane-stabilizing activities in experimental models. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 Sep 1;26(5):501–8.

3.         Umukoro S, Alabi AO, Eduviere AT, Ajayi AM, Oluwole OG. Anti-inflammatory and membrane stabilizing properties of methyl jasmonate in rats. Chin J Nat Med. 2017 Mar 1;15(3):202–9.

4.         Oluwole OG, Ologe O, Alabi A, Yusuf GT, Umukoro S. Anti-inflammatory effects and anti-oxidant capacity of Myrathius arboreus (Cecropiaceae) in experimental models. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Nov 1;28(6):521–9.

5.         Umukoro S, Oluwole GO, Olamijowon HE, Omogbiya AI, Eduviere AT. Effect of Monosodium Glutamate on Behavioral Phenotypes, Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Brain Tissues and Liver Enzymes in Mice. World J Neurosci. 2015;05(05):339.

6.         Umukoro S, Omorogbe O, Aluko OM, Eduviere TA, Owoeye O, Oluwole OG. Jobelyn®, a Sorghum-Based Nutritional Supplement Attenuates Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress-Induced Memory Deficits in Mice. J Behav Brain Sci. 2015;05(13):586.

7.         Adelaja AO, Oluwole OG, Aluko OM, Umukoro S. Methyl jasmonate delays the latency to anoxic convulsions by normalizing the brain levels of oxidative stress biomarkers and serum corticosterone contents in mice with repeated anoxic stress. Drug Metab Pers Ther [Internet]. 2020 Dec 1 [cited 2023 Sep 23];35(4). Available from: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/dmpt-2020-0129/html

8.         Oluwole OG, Kuivaniemi H, Abrahams S, Haylett WL, Vorster AA, van Heerden CJ, et al. Targeted next-generation sequencing identifies novel variants in candidate genes for Parkinson’s disease in Black South African and Nigerian patients. BMC Med Genet. 2020 Feb 4;21(1):23.

9.         Wonkam Tingang E, Noubiap JJ, F. Fokouo JV, Oluwole OG, Nguefack S, Chimusa ER, et al. Hearing Impairment Overview in Africa: the Case of Cameroon. Genes. 2020 Feb;11(2):233.

10.       Oluwole OG, Esoh KK, Wonkam-Tingang E, Manyisa N, Noubiap JJ, Chimusa ER, et al. Whole exome sequencing identifies rare coding variants in novel human-mouse ortholog genes in African individuals diagnosed with non-syndromic hearing impairment. Exp Biol Med. 2021 Jan 1;246(2):197–206.

11.       Hotchkiss J, Manyisa N, Mawuli Adadey S, Oluwole OG, Wonkam E, Mnika K, et al. The Hearing Impairment Ontology: A Tool for Unifying Hearing Impairment Knowledge to Enhance Collaborative Research. Genes. 2019 Dec;10(12):960.

12.       Oluwole OG, James K, Yalcouye A, Wonkam A. Hearing loss and brain disorders: A review of multiple pathologies. Open Med. 2022 Jan 1;17(1):61–9.

13.       Yalcouyé A, Traoré O, Taméga A, Maïga AB, Kané F, Oluwole OG, et al. Etiologies of Childhood Hearing Impairment in Schools for the Deaf in Mali. Front Pediatr [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Oct 29];9. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2021.726776

14.       Dia Y, Adadey SM, Diop JPD, Aboagye ET, Ba SA, De Kock C, et al. GJB2 Is a Major Cause of Non-Syndromic Hearing Impairment in Senegal. Biology. 2022 May;11(5):795.

15.       Oluwole OG, Henry M. Genomic medicine in Africa: a need for molecular genetics and pharmacogenomics experts. Curr Med Res Opin. 2023 Jan 2;39(1):141–7.

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