HAVERFORD BIOLOGY PROFESSOR AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP
A Haverford professor has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Science and Society Foundation of Zurich, Switzerland. Assistant Professor of Biology Iruka Okeke is one of only three international scholars to receive this year’s Branco Weiss Fellowship, traditionally given to researchers in the life sciences whose work can be viewed through a social and cultural context.
Okeke will receive up to five years of support from the Foundation for her research on drug resistance of the E. coli bacterium, specifically for a proposal titled Antimicrobial Resistance in West Africa: Magnitude and Containment. “The fellowship will support my studies of the nature, mechanism, and predisposing factors for the spread of genetic material encoding resistance in E. coli from West Africa,” she says.
The Science and Society Foundation provides assistance to researchers in the natural sciences whose work extends to include social and cultural perspectives, and Okeke is no exception. “The emergence and spread of resistant bacteria is promoted by human activities,” she says. “I am interested in identifying human determinants that may encourage the spread of resistant bacteria, particularly in developing countries. Ultimately, my research is aimed at working with affected communities to identify practicable and acceptable interventions for resistance control.”
Okeke joined Haverford’s faculty in 2002. Previously, she was a career development lecturer in the department of biomedical sciences at the University of Bradford, UK, with a research specialty in molecular epidemiology and the pathogenesis of E. coli. She is currently an advisor to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) International.