FUTA Overview

Michael Obinna Okpara: The Alumnus who defended the Integrity of FUTA Certificate in South Africa

Michael Obinna Okpara: The Alumnus who defended the Integrity of FUTA Certificate in South Africa

In 2014 Michael Obinna Okpara of the Department of Biochemistry was the best graduating student and spoke on behalf of FUTA Graduating class of 2014 at the 25th and 26th Convocation Ceremonies held on December 19th and 20th 2014. He made a first class and after the National service and a stint as a graduate assistant he proceeded to University of Cape Town, South Africa for his master’s programme. And in the course of the programme he showed that his first class in FUTA was no fluke. He defended the integrity of FUTA Certificate and graduates coming out of the MSc programme with distinction.

Read his story and future plan below:

“In 2014, when I delivered the valedictory speech for the 25th and 26th combined convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, I promised my parents that the best of my achievements is yet to come. From that moment till now, I have won five (5) postgraduate bursary/scholarships among which I had to decline two (2) as they cannot be held concurrently. In 2017, I got an offer to study towards a master’s degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa under the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.

I passed my MSc (Med) degree in Medical Biochemistry by dissertation with distinction at UCT in 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Virna D. Leaner and co-supervision of Dr Pauline van der Watt. In my master’s research project, I investigated the potential of a family of proteins as biomarkers for cervical and oesophageal cancers. I generated sufficient data suggesting that members of this protein family are detectable in the serum of cancer patients at levels higher than that observed in non?cancer controls, and they also showed better discriminatory capability between non-cancer subjects and cervical and/or oesophageal cancer patients when combined as a panel of cancer biomarkers.  At the moment, I cannot reveal the names of these proteins because the process of obtaining intellectual property protection for them as a panel of biomarkers for cervical and oesophageal cancers is still underway. Furthermore, I identified three novel binding partners of a key member of the “protein family” in cervical and oesophageal cancer cell lines. These novel binding partners could be further studied as chemotherapeutic targets and/or biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancers.

For my PhD, I would like to study the biology of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and the potential of some key proteins in its life cycle as chemotherapeutic targets for the treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma”.