University of the Free State | UFS | Universities | Next Generation Sequencing Unit

Meet Dr. Ayodeji Emmanuel Ogunbayo

Meet Dr. Ayodeji Emmanuel Ogunbayo, commonly known as Dr. Emms by his peers. He hails from a small town in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. He completed his high school education in 2007, and also completed an advanced Cambridge A level programme in 2008.  With a great passion for research based career in medical science, he studied Biochemistry and Microbiology at UNISA, and further progressed to study B.MedSc. Honours with specialization in medical Microbiology and Virology at the University of the Free State (UFS), which was funded by the National Research Foundation.

Owing to his performance and passion, he was accepted for M.Med.Sc. degree in Medical Microbiology (UFS) during which he worked on M. tuberculosis diagnostics in children. Upon completion of his M.Med.Sc. in 2018, he was accepted into a fully funded PhD programme in Medical Virology (UFS) under the mentorship of Prof. Martin Nyaga. According to Dr. Emms “My decision to pursue a PhD degree in Medical Virology was clear and concise. I knew the journey would be demanding, tedious and sometimes lonely. However, I believe that it would be a small sacrifice for the bigger picture. More importantly, it is the first step in advancing my carrier as an emerging researcher”

Dr. Emms commenced his PhD in medical Virology in 2019, which was centred on the applicability of clinical metagenomics next-generation sequencing (mNGS) in severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) in children and deciphering the children’s respiratory virome in health and disease; a project which was the first of its kind in Africa. In his words “The project was conceived before COVID-19 pandemic, however, despite the challenges encountered due to lockdown measures, the project came at the right time as it was able to address several profound effects of pandemic such as COVID-19 on the dynamics of transmission of respiratory viruses and ultimately its effect on children’s health. During his PhD study, He published 4 manuscript in high reputable journal including the most recent one which was accepted in Journal of Medical Virology (JMV) with an impressive impact factor of 20.693.

According to Dr. Emms “The four papers addressed different objectives of the study. The first paper published in International Journal of Environmental and Public Health highlighted and addressed the changes in transmission dynamics of respiratory viruses due to COVID-19 and the impact of such changes in a post COVID-19 era.  The second paper published in Viruses, reveals for the first time the respiratory virome composition in children with and without SARI during winter and summer period; and suggest a high degree of heterogeneity between the two groups and weather period. The third paper published in Journal of Virological Methods evaluated methods in viral RNA metagenomics and suggests that extraction choice and enrichment strategy may influence the recovery of respiratory RNA virus in metagenomics studies. The fourth paper recently accepted in JMVaddressed the research gap in the use of mNGS for clinical diagnosis. The paper highlighted the notable clinical utility and several advantages of using mNGS combined with multiple bioinformatics analysis tools in diagnosing SARI in children compared to the use of real-time multiplex PCR adopted in most diagnostic laboratories.

Dr. Emms who will be formally graduating on 20 April 2023, says “My PhD experience was positively impacted by my research environment at the UFS-NGS Unit and the never-ending support and mentorship of my promoter; Prof. Martin Nyaga and co-promoter, Prof. Sabiu Saheed. My experience bolstered my transformation into an emerging researcher and has further prompted me into taking up a postdoctoral fellowship position at the UFS-NGS unit”. He further stated “During this period, I intend to use the opportunity to give back in terms of postgraduate student’s supervision, designing projects with high public health impact, and assisting with funding acquisition; while I continue my journey into becoming an established research scientist.