For Dr Samuel Olojede who graduated with his PhD in Clinical Anatomy, the highlight of his studies was seeing data sets from his doctoral research initially resulting in three publications and three citations, which increased by the end of his study to an impressive 25 publications and 286 citations in prestigious high-impact factor journals including Life Sciences; Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology; Scientific Reports and Heliyon.
His study, which focused on testicular and reproductive health for men living with HIV, was co-supervised by the Anatomy Department’s Professor Onyeamechi Okpara Azu and Drs Carmen Rennie and Edwin Naidu. It explored histomorphological changes in the testes following the administration of novel silver nanoparticle conjugates of highly active antiretroviral drugs and tenofovir in a diabetic animal model.
‘The nanoconjugates preserved the structural and functional integrity of the testes, very likely mitigating the reproductive and metabolic dysfunction often seen in HIV-infected persons when fuelled by viral rebound in sanctuary sites, non-compliance, or long-term exposure to conventional highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART),’ Olojede explained.
The novel findings suggested that using inorganic nanoparticles like silver nanoparticles to deliver antiretroviral drugs through biological barriers to reach anatomical sanctuary sites may alleviate testicular injury and metabolic disorders resulting from diabetes mellitus or HIV therapeutic agents.
Olojede said: ‘People living with HIV may benefit from these nanocomposites, especially male HIV-infected persons who suffer from metabolic disorders and have the desire to reproduce. Moreover, the study established the possibility of using novel nanomaterials and novel drug delivery systems to enhance the treatment of HIV/AIDS infections and associated reproductive, neuroendocrine and metabolic disorders.’
The study has contributed to UKZN’s high-impact factor publications on nanomedicine solutions to the challenges related to infectious diseases and related complications. All the publications resulting from the study are open access, enabling greater availability of data and information to those who may benefit from newer information related to nano-delivery of antiretroviral therapy.
‘I return all the glory to God, the source of all wisdom, for making my PhD the most exciting, unique and highly rewarding journey,’ said Olojede who is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS). ‘My primary career goal to improve the quality of life through advances in neuroendocrine, reproductive and metabolic health fuelled my quest to pursue a PhD.’
Olojede said the global standstill caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a complete shutdown of academic activities, was the most devastating period of his research journey. ‘Support from my supervisors, friends, family and UKZN management helped me out of this crisis.’
Citing his passion for scientific research, he said that he looks forward to completing the postdoctoral research fellowship he was awarded by the School of LMMS and advancing his career in research and academia. ‘I have demonstrated this passion by sponsoring myself at conferences and workshops and working closely with researchers in different reputable laboratories.’
Olojede received fully-funded grants from the International Brain Research Organization to attend a Teaching Tools workshop and the Advanced School on Functional Neuroanatomy. He was also awarded ALBA-FKNE-YIBRO diversity grants for the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies in 2020. He expressed his gratitude to UKZN’s College of Health Sciences for PhD scholarships in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and thanked the academics who supported him all the way.
When not teaching students or in the lab conducting research, Olojede enjoys playing football and travelling.
Words: Lunga Memela
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan