Sickle Cell Support Society of Nigeria (SCSSN) had a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Brazil National Council for Research (Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa – CNPq) in 2013 for postgraduate (PG) studies in sickle cell disease (SCD) in various Brazil universities. The scholarship for the program was provided by CNPq through Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Brazil. Following the initial advertisement, writing of proposal and phone interviews, I was selected as one of the four beneficiaries for doctorate (PhD) degree in Haematology in 2013. Four other candidates were selected for Master degree. The program started in July 2014, although I could not get to Brazil until August, 2014 because of the EBOLA epidemics as at the time. I was later enrolled into the Program at the Federal University of São Paulo (Universidade Federal de São Paulo – UNIFESP, Brazil) to study in the Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion under Profa. Dra. Maria Stella Figueiredo, a professor of Haematology and Coordinator of the PG program.
Lectures, Seminars and Conferences.
As prerequsites for the award of the degree, I regularly attended and actively participated in all lecture series on Haematology, Haemotherapy, Ethics, Statistics, Genetics, Neurodiagnostics and Paediatrics. Most of these lectures were taken in the first year of the program. I also attended many Local and International conferences on Haematology/ Neurology during the period. The results of our national survey on Prenatal and Newborn screening of SCD was presented during one of the conferences – the 2nd SCD Global Congress organised by the Global SCD Network, in Rio de Janeiro, in November, 2014.
I was drafted as a PG Research Fellow at the Hereditary Haemolytic Anaemia Laboratory, UNIFESP, and actively participated in many researches. These included studies on Haptoglobin polymorphisms, Interleukins SNPs, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (TCD) and endothelial adhesion in SCD. My primary research was a comparative study of Brazilian and Nigerian children. I examined the influence of hydroxyurea on nutrition and also the roles of 25-hydroxyvitamin D on clinical phenotypes, haemolysis biomarkers and inflammatory cytokines.
Clinical and Laboratory activities
I was trained between October 2014 and April 2015 in the performance of TCD at the Neurovascular unit of the University Hospital (Hospital Universitario, São Paulo). I was also trained in some Molecular Biology/ haematology procedures such as DNA extraction, ELISA techniques and expanded red blood cell immunophenotyping. I had about two years of clinical attachment at the Paediatric Haematology, Neurovascular and Adult Haematology units of the hospital and participated in the management of patients seen during the period, particularly those with SCD, Thalassaemia, Spherocytosis and Iron disorders.
This experience has undoubtedly enriched my research, teaching and clinical skills. I want to express my deepest appreciation to CNPq; SCSSN; my PhD supervisor and friend – Profa. Dra. Maria Stella Figueiredo; the Coordinator of the Joint CNPq and Africa Countries Collaborative PG Research Training in SCD – Profa. Dra. Marilda de Souza Gonçalves; and Prof. Adekunle Adekile, the President of SCSSN. I want to thank you all for the program conception and eventual collaboration, the faith you had in the selected candidates, your moral and financial supports, and your optimism when things were hazy during EBOLA epidemics. God bless.