Nigerian scientist wins MIT’s World Top Young Innovators Award
Yemi Adesokan, 35- year based Nigerian born researcher, has put his country’s name on the map of nations of innovation.
Adesokan’s discovery which has potential to change the way mankind responds to disease pathogens, according to experts, may bring an end the era of increased burden of drug resistance in the world particularly, in sub Saharan Africa.
When he moved to United States in 1996, little did the young innovator have realise that he was going to rub shoulders with some of the greatest names in scientific technology.
But today, Adesokan who has been listed by Technology Review, an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) USA. as one of the TR35 Award of the 2011 World top innovators. Past recipients have included Sergey Brin (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Konstantin Novoselev (later a Nobel Laureate in Physics).
Adesokan is being so specially honoured for his work in the application of next generation sequencing to clinical diagnostics. Adesokan, who is also the founder of Pathogenica Inc., was selected as a member of the TR35 class of 2011 by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, who evaluated more than 300 nominations.
This work is being carried out by a biotechnology startup that I founded with Prof George Church of Harvard Medical School DNA technology. The Pathogenica’s test kits are able to identify the presence, allowing for physicians to screen for multiple diseases with accurate results and a rapid turnaround.
Sequencing technologies have improved a million – fold in the past seven years, bringing scientists a wealth of individual genomics and the key now is to employ the data to improve clinical practice. The DNA sequence of each individual or organism is unique, and is the most detailed signature for identification.
This year marks one decade since the completion of the Human Genome Project, a three billion-dollar effort to sequence a human genome.
A major issue in Nigeria today, is that some sterilised water may contain harmful pathogens. The technology is useful in screening a range of pathogens in water, livestock (poultry, etc.), and in food manufacturing. The key point for this technology is its high multiple. As it scales up, we actually see a reduction in price.
With the innovation, the cost of DNA sequencing has dropped more than 40,000_fold since that time to just $5,000 today. The price continues to drop. We are applying this fast, inexpensive technology in a unique way to improve routine clinical diagnostics.