Meet Nigerian doctor, Onyema Ogbuagu, the brain behind PFizer’s COVID-19 breakthrough vaccine


Meet Nigerian doctor, Onyema Ogbuagu, the brain behind PFizer’s COVID-19 breakthrough vaccine

A Nigerian Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, is at the centre of the Pfizer-led research, development and trials that have culminated in a breakthrough for COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Onyema is one of the twin sons of Prof. Chibuzo Ogbuagu (former VC of ABSU and Abia SSG), whose parents had in New Haven CT, when they went for their doctoral programmes at Yale.

The Ogbuagus’ were reported to have returned to Nigeria, where Onyeama studied medicine at the University of Calabar and then returned to Yale.

An Associate Professor of Medicine and infectious disease specialist at Yale School of Medicine, Ogbuagu, is in the clinician-educator track and Director of the HIV Clinical Trials programme of the Yale AIDS Programme, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine.

He was the Yale principal investigator on multiple investigational therapeutic and preventative clinical trials for COVID-19, including remdesivir (now FDA approved), leronlimab and remdesivir and tocilizumab combination therapy as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine trial.

Ogbuagu’s responsibilities at Yale include educating and training medical students, residents and infectious diseases fellows in various capacities in inpatient and outpatient settings; and through structured course work and other teaching sessions.

As a faculty of the HIV training track of the Yale-Internal Medicine primary care programme and for over six years as a faculty of the Human Resources for Health program in Rwanda, he has extensive experience with curriculum development, structuring of residency training programmes, and mentoring residents and faculty.

In Rwanda, specifically, he mentored medical residents and junior faculty in quality improvement and clinical research projects that were locally relevant and addressing important infectious diseases-related problems (particularly HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance).

In addition, Ogbuagu has facilitated meaningful educational and research collaborations between faculty and trainees across institutions.

As the programme director of World Bank and HRSA-funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and surgeons (LCPS)-run Internal medicine residency training programme, he oversaw the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia, and was responsible for educational programmes and activities aimed at strengthening the residency training programme.

Overall, his expertise and collective experiences to date had seen him to design and run successful projects around capacity building in low-resource settings, including developing and implementing innovative and robust medical training and research programmes for faculty, fellows, residents and students.

For five years running, he has been the director of the Yale AIDS Programme, HIV clinical trials programme, and a principal investigator on numerous pharmacokinetic, phase 2 and 3 safety and efficacy trials of novel antiviral compounds (HIV).

More recently, given the alarming rate of new infections among men who have sex with men (MSM), he had focused on HIV prevention trials including being a co-principal investigator on a Yale CIRA funded project, which has supported the formation of a cohort of men, who have sex with men and are at high risk for HIV and are engaged in HIV PrEP services in order to study the impact of substance use on retention in care and adherence to PrEP.

Ogbuagu is also a lead investigator on the international DISCOVER trial evaluating TAF/FTC vs TDF/FTC for HIV prevention among MSM and transgender women.



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