Meet the Nigerian doctor behind the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough
Dr. Onyema E. Ogbuagu, a Nigerian-American is one of the medical masterminds behind the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough. Dr. Ogbuagu is a twin son of Professor Chibuzor Ogbuagu, a former Vice Chancellor of Abia State University.
Dr. Ogbuagu was born in New Haven, Connecticut, United States when his parents were at the University of Yale for their doctoral programme. Young Ogbuagu would later return to Nigeria where he studied Medicine at the University of Calabar before jetting back to the US. He pursued his specialization programmes and practice at Yale.
He is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine and Yale’s 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.
An infectious disease specialist in New Haven, Connecticut, he is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area including MidState Medical Center, Yale New Haven Hospital.
He is the winner of Gerald H. Friedland Award for Outstanding International Research, awarded by Connecticut Infectious Diseases Society; for years 2014 and 2019.
Below is his autobiography:
I am an Associate Professor of Medicine, in the clinician-educator track and Director of the HIV Clinical Trials program of the Yale AIDS Program, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine.
My clinical responsibilities 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 program and for over 6 years as a faculty of the Human Resources for Health program in Rwanda, I have extensive experience with curriculum development, structuring of residency training programs, and mentoring residents and faculty. In Rwanda specifically, I have and continue to mentor medical residents and junior faculty in quality improvement and clinical research projects that are locally relevant and addressing important infectious diseases-related problems (particularly HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance).
Furthermore, I have facilitated meaningful educational and research collaborations between faculty and trainees across institutions. As the program director of World Bank and HRSA-funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and surgeons (LCPS)–run Internal medicine residency training program, I have overseen the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia, and am responsible for educational programs and activities aimed at strengthening the residency training program. Overall, my expertise and collective experiences to date have positioned me to design and run successful projects around capacity building in low-resource settings including developing and implementing innovative and robust medical training and research programs for faculty, fellows, residents and students.
For 5 years now, I have been the Director of the Yale AIDS Program HIV clinical trials program, 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), I have 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, who 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. I am also a lead investigator on the international DISCOVER trial evaluating TAF/FTC vs TDF/FTC for HIV prevention among MSM and transgender women.
In response to the COVID pandemic, I am 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.