FAU Graduate Researching Potential Ebola and Zika Vaccines

By kelsie weekes | 8/15/2017

While teaching microbiology in Nigeria in 2014, Olumide Adenmosun, 31, witnessed firsthand the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and knew he had to help. Last week, Adenmosun graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a master’s degree in business administration and will return to Africa to research potential Ebola and Zika vaccines and therapeutics.

Adenmosun was born and raised in Nigeria and completed his bachelor’s degree at Bowen University before a friend recommended he attend FAU to further his studies. He finished a master’s degree in biological sciences at FAU in 2013, and returned to FAU in 2015 to study business.

“I had been studying science my entire life, so I wanted to get an MBA to expand my skill set,” he said. “I wanted to learn the managerial skills needed to operate a biotech company.”

While completing his business degree, Adenmosun was involved in a research project with a team in Africa to study the prevalence of Ebola virus in bat populations. The preliminary results were published in the Journal of Infection and Prevention Control, where Adenmosun was the lead author. The study caught the attention of the Nigerian government, and Adenmosun was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the African Development Bank and the Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund through the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa to continue the research.

“We are taking molecules from bats and trying to design therapeutics for viruses such as Ebola and Zika,” he said. “We want to be better prepared for future resurgence of Ebola in Africa.”

Adenmosun also was part of a team of African scientists working to develop a rapid-diagnostic kit that can diagnose Ebola faster. In 2014, very few labs in Africa had the equipment necessary to test for the virus, and results could take up to five days to get back.

“With this test, you’ll get results back in less than 30 minutes,” he said.

Outside of his work in Africa, Adenmosun is an adjunct instructor in general microbiology at FAU’s Davie campus and microbiology for health sciences at FAU’s Boca Raton campus. He also has been volunteering at Boca Fertility and hopes to become a board-certified clinical embryologist one day. He’s been conducting novel sperm characterization research with James Kumi-Diaka, Ph.D., an associate professor in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and Waseem Asghar, Ph.D., an assistant professor in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. Adenmosun’s ongoing research on sickle cell sperm selection was recently published as a commentary in the Archives of Clinical Microbiology.

“Olu is an exceptional individual and student,” said Asghar. “I’ve always found him to be self-motivated, hard-working and an intelligent researcher.”

Following his graduation, Adenmosun will continue his research and work to establish his biotech start-up, Eurekan Biotech, in Africa. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences at FAU in the near future.

“Many scientists do their science but it dies in the lab,” he said. “By getting my MBA, I’ve learned how to build relationships, get my research funded and put it to use in the real world, and I’m thankful FAU gave me the opportunity to do that.”