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African Ingenuity

37-Year-Old Nigerian Doctor Wins Brain Tumor Research Award

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Dr. Chibawanye Ene (Chiba) is the winner of the 2019 Ronald L. Bittner Award on Brain Tumor Research. Dr. Chibawanye Ene was presented the award at the 2019 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). This year’s edition of the annual scientific meeting was held in San Diego from 13th to 17th of April.

Ronald L. Bittner Award on Brain Tumor Research award is an initiative of E. Laurie Bittner in memory of her husband. Consequently, the annual award goes to the best brain tumor research abstract by a U.S. resident doctor or junior faculty member.

Dr. Ene won the award for his work ‘Anti-PD-L1 Immunotherapy Enhances Radiation-induced Abscopal Response in Glioblastoma’. Immunotherapy is one of the common cancer treatment options. However, there are other treatment options like radiotherapy and surgery. Also, immunotherapy is less invasive than radiotherapy and surgery.

Background of Dr. Chibawanye Ene

Dr. Chibawanye Ene’s parents hail from Akpugo in Nkanu, Enugu State. However, he was born and raised in Benin, one of the south-southern states in Nigeria. He moved to the United States in 2000 for his undergraduate studies in Biology at Wayne State College, Nebraska. Subsequently, he attended the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis in 2004.

Dr. Chibawanye Ene

Dr. Chibawanye Ene’s stint with cancer research began in his third year. He received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellowship to study Glioblastoma-derived stem cells at the National Cancer Institute. National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda Maryland, continued to support his work towards Ph.D. at Cambridge University in the U.K. Chiba is a proud father of two boys. In his spare time, he enjoys watching soccer and spending time with his family. He is a resident of UW Medicine.

Glioblastoma and the search for a cure

Glioblastoma or Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is aggressive brain cancer. Its present non-specific early symptoms including headaches, nausea, and personality changes. However, it also presents stroke-like symptoms. There have been attempts to use immunotherapy to cure glioblastoma. Nevertheless, it has been unsuccessful. This is due to the selective elimination of tumor cells arising from molecular heterogeneity.

Unlike other cancer therapy, immunotherapy aims to equip the immune cells to fight cancer. Dr. Chibawanye Ene’s research shows that “radiation combined with Anti PD L1 therapy induces an immunological response to unirradiated glioblastoma”. According to a quarterly journal, Applied Radiation Oncology,

“The researchers are currently optimizing other treatment combinations that could also be readily assessed in phase I human clinical trials.”

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