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USF Doctoral Graduate Edikan Ogunnaike Awarded NIH MOSAIC K99/R00 grant

ogunnaike simpson

NIH MOSAIC scholar Edikan Ogunnaike PhD ‘15 (right)  with Aryssa Simpson, BSCH ‘20 (left) at the USF College of Engineering exhibit during ABRCMS 2022 in Anaheim, CA.

Edikan Ogunnaike, a 2015 PhD graduate in the Department of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, and now a postdoctoral researcher at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC-Chapel Hill, has received a Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00) of nearly $1 million from the National Institutes of Health. Sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the goal of her project, titled “Fibrin-CAR-T Cells Therapies to Enhance Efficacy in Glioblastoma Treatments”, is to advance new therapies with a smart biomaterial for delivery of engineered t-cells against solid tumor interfaces to treat glioblastoma.

The Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) program is part of NIH’s efforts to enhance diversity within the academic biomedical research workforce. It’s designed to facilitate the transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, including individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce at the faculty level who are seeking independent, tenure-track or equivalent research-intensive faculty positions.  

Toward this goal, Ogunnaike will receive independent funding in two phases – first as a postdoctoral researcher to expand her knowledge of therapeutic delivery systems in solid tumors at the UNC Eshleman School of Pharmacy and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The second phase includes additional NIH funding for 3 years after she transitions to a tenure-track faculty position. Ogunnaike will participate, under the auspices of the American Society of Cell Biology (ASCB), in cohort-based mentoring, networking, and professional development activities to promote networking and enhance her visibility in the faculty job market. 

During her postdoctoral training at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Ogunnaike has co-authored 10 publications, including in Nature Biotechnology, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Advanced Materials, Biomaterials, and Science Advances. She is also a past recipient of a Sloan Scholars Mentoring Network (SSMN) Mentor Career Development Grant. While a doctoral student in the research group of Anna Pyayt, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, Ogunnaike published four first-author papers, contributed to a US patent, and presented at international meetings. She was supported by the Sloan Foundation Minority PhD Program, NSF FGLSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Activity, and the Florida Education Fund’s McKnight Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Program. Along with the fellowship awards, Ogunnaike participated in a summer internship at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC. There, she supported the NRL’s mission of multidisciplinary research in biotechnology for national security applications. 

As an NIH MOSAIC scholar, Ogunnaike aims to advance therapies that will improve clinical outcomes and participate in initiatives to increase diversity in biomedical science. More specifically, she is passionate about fostering inclusive and safe spaces for underserved researchers in the fields of nanobiotechnology, neuroscience, and immunoengineering. During her faculty career, she plans to continue mentoring students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and at national meetings such as the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS).