This month’s Ambassador of the month is Rebecca Chukwuanukwu, Lecturer and Research Scientist based at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka (Nigeria). Rebecca joined the Immunopaedia team in early 2020, despite being relatively new to the family, she made an enormous contribution as one of the Rapporteurs for the Immuno-Ethiopia course that took place last year (pre-COVID lockdown). During the course, she also interviewed many of the faculty members: Claire J Hoving; Hans-Martin Jäck; Fabienne Tacchini-Cottier, and David Sacks. Rebecca’s research interests include immunity to tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria.
“Their overlapping epidemiology led me to study the modulation of the immune system in these diseases and in co-infection. I am currently working on a project on Hepatitis among pregnant women. I am also interested in vaccine design and adverse events of vaccination.”
My recent publications include:
Chukwudozie O. S, Chukwuanukwu R.C, Iroanya O.O, Eze D.M, Duru V.C et al.(2020). Attenuated Subcomponent Vaccine Design Targeting the SARS-COV-2 Nucleocapsid Phosphoprotein RNA Binding Domain: In Silico Analysis. Journal of Immunology Research. Article ID 2837670. https;//doi.org/10.1155/2020/2837670
Chukwuanukwu R.C, Uchenna N.O, Mbagwu S.I, Chukwuanukwu T.O (2019).Cryptococcus neoformans seropositivity and some haematologic parameters in HIV seropositive subjects. Journal of Infection and Public Health. 13 (7),1042-1046.
Chukwuanukwu R.C, Onyenekwe C., Martinez-Pomares L., Singh S., Amilo G., Agbakoba N., Okoye J. (2017). Modulation of the immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis during malaria/ tuberculosis co-infection. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 187(2): 259-268.
Why I love immunology: I just love that everything is somehow connected [to the immune system]. Ever since I came across Immunology, I have been intrigued by this field. Vast, amazing, deep and interesting. There’s so much of it that you can find an area to love.
If I wasn’t an immunologist I would be: I would be a haematologist. I had the opportunity to start studying haematology first before my love for Immunology won and I changed direction and started a second Masters degree in Immunology & Allergy.
Tips for young people who want to enter the field of immunology: Immunology is a relatively new field in medical science and there is still lots of space and loads of uncharted territory. It may appear difficult at first especially if you are coming from certain backgrounds (with limited exposure to the field). It could take a lot of background study. If you love it, follow your heart. Where there is a will there is a way. Finally, don’t forget to get yourself a mentor.
Women and Girls in Science: There continues to be a wide gender gap with much fewer females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The strong patriarchal system in Africa continues to drive this disparity. The more enlightened a family/community, the better the chances that females are not just given a chance but encouraged to pursue their dreams in STEM.
Girls and women have been conditioned to believe that certain areas are for males. Intentional re-orientation and advocacy programs targeted at girls in secondary schools drive positive change. This I believe in and try to support by getting involved. Having female role models are quite useful as well.
I am always pleased to give career talks, health talks, or any other opportunity to pass the message across to young females. Knowledge is power.
What being an Immunopaedia Ambassador means to me: It means I get an opportunity to contribute to knowledge about the field of Immunology. It means I am willing to support those behind this laudable Immunopaedia project of advancing global Immunology education anyway and whenever I can. It also means I encourage others to take advantage of the resources and opportunities on the website which encourages global sharing of knowledge and information.
How I have contributed to Immunopaedia so far: I am relatively new to Immunopeadia but so far, I have worked as a rapporteur. For this task, I helped summarise talks/lectures given by resource persons during the Immuno-Ethiopia training program for the Immunopaedia website:
Immuno-Ethiopia: Fungal epidemiology and immunology
Immuno-Ethiopia: Malaria Highlight 2
Immuno-Ethiopia: Malaria Highlight 1
I have also had the opportunity and pleasure of conducting video interviews of eminent Immunologists: Professor Hans-Martin Jäck Interview, Head of the division of molecular Immunology, Freidrich-Alexander University Erlangen; Fabienne Tacchini-Cottier, Director of WHO Immunology Research & training institute and Associate Professor, University of Lausanne; David Sacks of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Bethesda and Claire J Hoving Interview of the institute of infectious diseases & molecular medicine.
The University of Cape Town. These are also posted on the Immunopaedia website.