18 May 2017
Dr Owolabi’s professional background is in paediatrics and child health and in this regard he has led several major projects since joining MRCG in 2008. In particular, he was a Sub-Investigator/Research Clinician on the MVA85A (Oxford University) tuberculosis vaccine trial in infants. He was also the Principal Research clinician on another novel TB vaccine, M72/AS01E (GSK), also conducted in infants.
These two clinical trials were the first to administer these novel vaccines in infants and have since led to Phase II trials in South Africa with varying degrees of success. His contribution alongside Dr Martin Ota towards setting up the MRCG Fajikunda site for clinical trials was invaluable in late 2009. Dr Owolabi’s contribution to the TBCC has been important, not only in regards to patient diagnoses but for initiation of new projects, overseeing the entire field team and mentoring of all within his fold. He works tirelessly towards the goal of reducing the TB burden in The Gambia.
Married with children, Olumuyiwa still finds time to undertake a Master’s Programme in Public Health at the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). During his research career, Dr Owolabi has authored and co-authored several papers. Among the scientific outputs from his research with high citation includes Elevated serum 25-hydroxy (OH) vitamin D levels are associated with risk of TB progression in Gambian adults. He has had four first-author publications and several presentations at major international conferences.
In his own words, “my goal is to significantly enhance the level of understanding of TB disease amongst our TBCC participants, feeding into improving self-referral of incident TB cases from the household and an improved follow-up rate of cases. We hope that this will eventually result in a better understanding of TB disease in the wider community in terms of TB control and zero TB death.” TB remains a stigmatised disease in many low-income settings, including Gambia, hence the need for a robust understanding of the disease that addresses stigma. This is a major issue since stigma often prevents people from seeking health care until the disease has far progressed.