Dr. Bamidele Abiodun Iwalokun

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Dr. Iwalokun, B. A joined NIMR in 2008 as a Senior Research Fellow and became a Deputy Director of Research in 2016. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the College of Medicine; University of Lagos in 2005. His area of specialization is Microbial Science and Biochemistry. Dr. Iwalokun B. A has lecturing and research  experience, spanning 25 years across four Universities (University of Lagos, Lagos State university, Olabisi Onabanjo University & Crawford university) and NIMR.

He had his pre- and post-doctoral training at institute endemic disease Research in Sudan, Boise State University (USA) and Liverpool/Wellcome Trust/Malawi Medical School Research Laboratory and Wellcome Trust Genome Centre, Hinxton. He has acquired tremendous training in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bacterial pathogenesis, Microbial genetics and genomics, Bioinformatics, Immunogenetics, Immunology and health research ethics. His main trust is capacity building and mentorship in the area of molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases with interactions with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and COPD and use of PCR, RFLP, RAPD, SDS-PAGE, Enzymology, Bioinformatics, Genomics and Sequencing to address public health problems in Nigeria. His expertise include basic and translational research in communicable diseases (e.g. malaria, gastroenteritis/diarrhea disease, tuberculosis etc) and non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes and hypertension). He became the HOD, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Department, NIMR in August, 2015 and Head of Immunology and Vaccinology Research Group same year. Dr. Iwalokun Bamidelehas been a recipient of many Travel Fellowships awards from WellcomeTrust, Gordon Research Conference, AMVTN, AMANET, ISID, ISPPD, AIS and Bill and Melinda Gate. He is also a grant recipient of Ford Foundation, Mid-Term Strategic Scheme fund, Nigeria, Intramural Research Grant, NIMR, CarniegieDiaspora Fellowship, Programme and seed grant from International Society of Hypertension. Dr. Iwalokun, BA is presently in collaboration with many\ institutions overseas and locally via joint project grant implementation and postgraduate student supervision. They include Centre of Proteomics and Genomics (CPG), Cape-Town, South-Africa, Albany State University, USA, SANDIA, U, SA, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata, India FioCruz, National Institute Infectious Diseases, Rio De Jainerio, Brazil Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany Institute of Tropical Medicine, TubingenUniversity, Germany, Institutfür Med. MikrobiologieUniklinikMünster, Germany,Lagos State University, Osun State University, University of Lagos, and FederalUniversity of Technology, Minna, Niger State. Dr. Iwalokun, BA has won 9 research grants with over 110 publications to his credit.

Dr Iwalokun’s current research focus is based on understanding the taxonomy of strains of mycotoxigenic fungi across three genera (Penicillum, Aspergillus & Fusarium) in common Nigerian staple foods (E.g. Maize, Millet, Sorghum, Rice, Cassava, Yam, Groundnut, Cow pea, milk & milk products, chicken and beef  etc) and feeds (e.g. poultry feeds and feed ingredients) across the seven agro-ecological zones in Nigeria. This will be done using high resolution genetic markers (E.g. calmodulin, b-tubulin, translation protein 1-alpha), gene-whole genome genome sequencing, metagenomics and Bioinformatics. The goal is to develop spartio-temporal map of mycotoxigenic fungi per food substrate, agro-ecological zone and agricultural practices in the country to guide prevention and control measures as well as improve food safety and national economy. With accurate mycotoxigenic fungi in place, further research will be geared towards understanding diversity of mycotoxigenic fungi, the biosynthesis and regulation of major (aflatoxins (E.g. AFB1, AFB2 & AFBM1), fuminosins (e.g. B1 & B2), ochratoxin A, zearelenone and trichotecenes (E.g. deoxynivalenol)  and novel mycotoxiins they produce, using genomics (E.g. gene and allele detection PCR, allelism test, real-time PCR & whole genome sequencing), transcriptomics (RNAseq analysis of malting process, reverse trascriptase PCR), immunogenetic (e.g. Enzyme linked oligonucleotide assay (ELOSA) and proteomic approach (MALDI-TOF for confirming fungal identification and mycotoxin gene detection).

The current research will also design assays (gut microbiota metagenomics, tight junction protein expression monitoring, cell cycle growth arrest effect) to improve understanding toxic effects (acute and chronic) effects of major mycotoxins (aflatoxin B!, ochratoxin A, fuminosin B1 & B2, zearalenone, & deoxinivalenol) at different concentrations on gut epithelium and metabolism following exposure by oral and parental routes using mouse model and cell-culture systems (E.g. TP84, Caco-2 cells and CMT-based cell lines) and techniques such as fluorescence microscopy, reverse transcriptase real-time PCR and faecal metagenomics. This work will lead to the development of molecular tests for rapid identification of mycotoxigenic and non-mycotoxigenic fungal isolates of the same gene genera and section (e.g. Aspergillus section nigri) for use by trained field and laboratory workers in the West and Central African regions covered by the African Centre of Excellence in Mycotoxins and Food Safety (ACEMFS) in the next 5 years and sustained thereafter. A framework for the analysis and reporting of phylogeny-based molecular epidemiology studies from survey of mycotoxigenic fungi in foods and feeds across the regions will also be developed.

NIMR has recently added to its state-of-the-art facilitation by recent acquisition of 3real time PCR, sanger sequencers (Genetic Analyzer 3150 XL (16 capillaries) and SeqStudio (4 –capillaries), confocal fluorescent Microscope, Tissue culture Laboratory for cell-line banking and cellular cytotoxicity assays, Vitek 2 & anaerobic culture systems, RedHAT and Bionumerics Analytical tools. These newly acquired tools added to the existing tools such as thermal cyclers, flow cytometers, fluorescence microscope for FISH, horizontal and vertical electrophoretic systems have further boosted the research capability, opportunity, motivation and preparedness of the Institute to build capacity, competence and expertise of researchers within and outside the ACEMFS network in mycotoxigenic fungi genetic, genomic and toxicological research. Currently, about 65% of the proposed research studies above could be achieved in NIMR. Others will be achieved through collaboration with other laboratories within the ACEMFS network.