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Contact Information

Department of Life Sciences
The University of the West Indies
St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
1(868) 662-2002 Ext. 85231

 

Location

Postgraduate Biotechnology Lab
3rd Floor TLC Building
Tel: 1(868) 662-2002
Ext. 83084
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Hi! I'm Akili and I am obsessed with all things involving human genetics. I am especially passionate about genetics as it pertains to human disease and therefore focused my research on monogenic (single gene) diabetes as little is known about this in our local population. My passion for genetics started while reading for my B.Sc. in Biology with a minor in Biotechnology at UWI, STA and this led to my pursuing a M.Sc. in Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics at the University of Nottingham in the UK. While working at the university upon my return to Trinidad, the opportunity to do my Ph.D. arose. The best use of research is the application of the knowledge contributed, as such, my research aims to produce a diagnostic test that will be clinically actionable in the future.

 

Education

  • Ph.D. Candidate (Microbiology). The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine 2016 to present
  • M.Sc. Molecular Genetics and Diagnostics with Distinction. University of Nottingham 2015
  • B.Sc. Biology with a minor in Biotechnology with First Class Honours. The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine 2014

 

Programme Details

Programme: Ph.D. Microbiology
Enrollment: Full time
Year of Study: Year 3
Academic Advisory Committee: Dr. Brian Cockburn
Project Title: Investigating the Genetics of Monogenic Diabetes Mellitus in Trinidad and Tobago
 

Summary: Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is the third leading cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago with a mortality rate of 14% which is the fourth highest in the world. It is a metabolic disease characterised by impaired glucose homeostasis that may be due to complex (multifactorial) or monogenic aetiologies. Monogenic diabetes is the rarer form, usually accounting for 1-5% of all DM cases in America. Prevalence of monogenic diabetes is unknown in Trinidad and Tobago and may be misdiagnosed for the more common Type 1 and Type 2 DM. This is clinically important as it may affect treatment of patients and at-risk relatives. Increased prevalence of DM in local population may be due to increased prevalence of monogenic DM that may be caused by known mutations or novel mutations unique to this population. This study will seek to establish a biobank of DM samples, investigate the genetic basis of monogenic DM using whole exome sequencing (WES) and bioinformatic tools and develop a screening panel for future monogenic DM diagnostics. The results of this study would increase the knowledge of monogenic DM in the local population as well as lead to the accurate diagnosis of cases to allow for possible improved quality of life for patients due to less invasive medication administration and family planning for at-risk relatives.

 

Work Experience

(All positions at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine)

  • Demonstrator (September 2017 - Present)
  • Assistant Invigilator (May & December 2017, May & December 2018)
  • Assistant Examiner (December 2016, May & December 2017, May & December 2018)
  • Teaching Assistant (January 2017- May 2017)
  • Associate Professional (January 2016-January 2017)
  • Research Assistant (June 2014-August 2014)

 

Awards

  • UWI Postgraduate Scholarship holder (September 2017 -Present)-UWI
  • W.E. Freeman Prize 2014 (Best Undergraduate final Year Project in Cocoa)-UWI
  • National Additional Scholarship (2011-2014)- Government of Trinidad and Tobago

 

Professional Memberships

  • American Medical Technologist (Registered Phlebotomy Technician)
  • Genetics Society of America

 

Volunteer Experience

  • Executive Member, Board of the Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago (2016-2018)
  • Youth Leader, Faith Centre (2011 - Present)
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