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Quarterly Newsletter | October 2022

Global Cancer Disparities Initiatives

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center & African Research Group for Oncology
Dear Friends: 
It has been a busy end of summer and beginning of Autumn.  We were delighted with the number of applications to participate in our second cohort of the Nigerian Cancer Research Training (NCAT) Scholars Program. With so many great applications it was a challenge to select 12.  We appreciate the participation of all of the faculty who served on the review committee.  Please see the announcement of Cohort II below.
Additionally, you will find an announcement for the five pilot research grants awarded for the upcoming year.  We look forward to supporting this research and also appreciate the support of Dalhousie University and Dr. Greg Knapp who is providing support for one of these pilot studies.  
We were extremely pleased to hold the ARGO-MSK Annual Symposium in person in Ile-Ife, Nigeria in September.  

The ability to meet in person and for the MSK team to travel to Nigeria was a welcome event after two-years of virtual meetings during the COVID Pandemic.  We are already looking forward to our 2023 Symposium! 
 ARGO and GCDI's work continues to expand adding new studies, collaborative partners and growing staff at both MSK in New York and ARGO in Nigeria.  Below you will find updates on research,  expanding partnerships, and new staff.  We look forward to continuing to build capacity through training and education, research, and partnership.  And as 2022 ends and 2023 approaches we are grateful to all of our partners who make this work possible and look forward to our continued work together as we address critical challenges in cancer care and research. 

Peter and Isaac

Table of Contents

ARGO & GCDI Updates

Welcome Dr. Fayenuwo James Oluwaleke!

The Global Cancer Disparities Initiatives (GCDI) program and the African Research Group for Oncology (ARGO) welcomes Fayenuwo James Oluwaleke to the ARGO team.  He is a Public Health specialist with a special interest in Epidemiology, Reproductive Health, and Nutrition. 
He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria and is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians (Community Health) and a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (Public Health and Community Medicine).

Dr. James Fayenuwo
Over the years, he has gained considerable experience in various health, socio-economic, and population-focused program management posts that have adequately prepared and enhanced his skills, knowledge, and capacity to handle a wide range of public health issues. Some of his previous positions include consulting with the World Health Organization and serving as a member of the COVID-19 response team in Plateau State working with the contact tracing unit among others. Dr. Oluwaleke assumes project management responsibilities for a number of the MSK-ARGO studies and also carries out capacity-building and mentoring for teams at different levels of implementation with partners and promotes coordination among local stakeholders. We are excited to welcome him to the ARGO team!

ARGO Symposium - September 2022

ARGO and GCDI hosted the 9th Annual ARGO Symposium at OAU, Integrating Evidence and Innovation in Addressing Cancer Care Challenges in Nigeria, September 27-28th in Ile Ife at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC).  Nigerian faculty were joined by faculty from North America, 11 who traveled from MSKCC-New York, two from Albert Einstein Medical Center-New York, One from Tufts University Medical Center-Boston and one from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Canada. Faculty included epidemiologists, nurses, pathologists, pharmacists, radiologists, technologists, scientists and surgeons. The symposium brought together oncology leaders from across Nigeria.  A link to the program can be found on the ARGO website (Here) with the presentation details.
Pictured: Attendees of the 2022 ARGO Symposium

NCAT Scholar Program Update (Cohort I, wrap-up)

The Nigerian Cancer Research Training (NCAT) program, through the support of the Oak Foundation, was established to create a cohort of highly skilled Nigerian investigators who will lead independent oncology research programs and build research capacity in Nigeria. Cohort I of the NCAT Scholars joined the ARGO Symposium meeting in Ile Ife in September.  Immediately following, the 4th workshop of the program was held at OAUTHC. MSK faculty who traveled to Nigeria for the Symposium, led sessions on manuscript writing, publishing, and preparing scientific presentations. Scholars also presented their research updates and shared the progress and challenges encountered over this year-long program.  The scholars now head to Brazil in November for the final immersion session of their Harvard Principles and Practice of Clinical Research program.  We wish them a successful journey and look forward to introducing them to our next cohort of scholars. 

 NCAT Scholar Cohort I

Welcome NCAT scholar Cohort II

We are delighted to welcome 12 new scholars into the NCAT program.  We look forward to another challenging year of learning and working together to support investigators with the clinical research skills that will enable them to become leaders in oncology research.  We welcome Dr. Adewale Aderounmu, General Surgery; Dr. Collins C. Adumah, Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Paulina A. Idiok, Surgical Nursing, Dr. Dalhat S. Khalid, Nursing, Dr. Nneka Iloanusi, Radiology, Dr. Shehu Umar, Radiation and Clinical Oncology, Dr. Adeyemi A. Adefidipe, Pathology, Dr. Yusuf Adelabu, Clinical Heamatology and Oncology, Dr. Omolade Betiku, Pathology, Dr. Idowu Ogunlaja, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Dr. Anthonia Njoku, Obstetrics and Gynaecology  and Dr. Adetoye Adedapo, Anaesthesia and Intensive care.

ARGO-MSK Announce 2022-2023 Pilot Grant Awardees:

The ARGO-MSK GCDI Pilot Grant program was established to provide support to a physician from an ARGO institution to support global cancer research. Applicants must develop a one-year pilot study in the area of cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or outcomes. Recipients receive a $5,000.00 grant to carry out their research. ARGO and MSK congratulate the following 2022-23 awardees.
1. Dr. Abiodun -Consultant General Surgeon at the Federal Medical Centre, Bida, Niger State, Nigeria
  • Study:  In-Depth Exploration of Sociocultural Factors Influencing Delayed Presentation of Breast Cancer in North Central Nigeria.
2. Dr. Sekinah Bola-Oyebamiji,   Lecturer/Consultant at Osun State University Teaching Hsopital, Osogbo, Nigeria and a Fellow of the West Africa College of Surgeons and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology).
  • Study:  Diagnostic Accuracy of Visual Inspection with Acetic and in a Population of Women Living with HIV in Osogbo.
3. Dr. Oluwatosin Z. Omoyiola, Consultant Pathologist, Department of Morbid Anatomy and Forensic Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria  
  • Study:  Assessment and Characterization of Tumour-Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Colorectal Cancer Among Nigerian Patients.
4. Dr. Nnamdi Orah, Consultant Pathologist/Lecturer with the College of Medicine, University of Lagos  
  • Study:  Prevalence and Magnitude of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) seen in Breast Cancer Patients in Nigeria.
5. Dr. Chizoma Millicent Ndikom, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan Nigeria  
  • Study:  Outcome of Integrating Cervical Cancer Screening Information into Postnatal Services on Women's Screening Uptake in Ibadan,  Nigeria

Welcome Drs. Arijie and Okereke

GCDI is happy to welcome Drs. Olujide Arije and Chukwuma Okereke to MSKCC as Soudavar Fellows.  The Mammadi Soudavar Memorial Fellowship was designed for qualified physicians from across the world to study in cancer centers and bring their knowledge back to their country.  Dr. Arije, joins us from the Institute of Public Health at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife, where he is a Senior Research Fellow.  During his Fellowship at MSK, Dr.Arije will be working with Dr. Mithat Gonen in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  Dr. Okereke joins us from the Department of Surgery at the Federal Medical Center-Owo, in the Ondo State of Nigeria.  He serves as a PI on a collaborative breast study (“Improving Guideline Concordant Breast Cancer Treatment and Quality Oncology Care Delivery in Nigeria”) between ARGO and MSKCC.   During his Fellowship at MSK Dr. Okereke will rotate through a number of services including breast surgery, colorectal, HPB, and GMT.  GCDI is happy to welcome our colleagues from Nigeria. 
From left to right: Dr. Olujide Arijie, Dr.Oludolapo Omiyola, Dr. Chukwuma Okereke
We must also say a fond farewell to Dr. Oludolapo Omoyiola who has been a medical oncology fellow at MSKCC for the last year.  You may have seen his interview in our July newsletter.  Dr. Omoyiola’s passion to improve cancer care in his country and seize every opportunity to learn has been evident through his Fellowship.  We will miss him and will look forward to continued collaboration when he returns to his home institution, OAUTHC.

Featured Scholar

Dr. Sekinah Bola-Oyebamiji
Dr. Sekinah Bola-Oyebamiji
Osun State University, UniOSUN Teaching Hospital

We are delighted to feature Dr. Sekinah Bola-Oyebamiji one of our Clinical Research Scholars from the Nigerian Cancer Research Training (NCAT) Program in this edition of our quarterly newsletter.  Below please find an edited interview between Ms. Kate Randolph, Program Manager, for the GCDI program and Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji that was conducted in Ile Ife, Nigeria during the ARGO Symposium and fourth NCAT Workshop.
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji’s home institution is Osun State University, UniOSUN Teaching Hospital where she specializes in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

KR: Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji can you share with us what your expectations were when you joined the NCAT Scholar program?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji: I expected that I would meet with senior colleagues who would expect me to do research work with them and perhaps get one or two articles published.

KR: Has the program met with your expectations or differed from your expectations?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:This program has surpassed my expectations.  I realized it was a unique training opportunity.  It has trained me to be a better researcher and I believe it will improve my clinical practice. I can now critically appraise and utilize available medical evidence in my clinical work.  There was no pressure to publish, but significant support to work and improve at one’s own pace.  The organizers and mentors gave generously of their time and knowledge providing guidance and support for my research initiatives.  I feel more confident in proposal preparation, conducting research, and believe I can now bring a stronger skill set to my work and collaboration with others on research projects.
KR: What surprised you most about the program?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji : The level of selflessness that Dr. Kingham and Professor Alatise put into the program in training the scholars.  Their commitment of time, their support, and their identification of mentors to work with us on our training initiatives.  The level of support from all involved in organizing this program was wonderful.  They were always willing to do more.

KR:  How would you describe the benefit of having an international partner in this program?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:  The support of having an international partnership exposed me to a variety of topics including international standards related to ethics  in research, a more in-depth understanding on the preparation of manuscripts, skills in conducting scientific presentations and an opportunity to network with many new colleagues both within and outside my area of specialization (Obs/Gyn).  Additionally, having the support of an international partner allowed sponsorship for myself and my colleagues to participate in the Harvard Principles and Practice of Clinical Research program.  It was a tremendous experience.  These opportunities are out of the reach of most young researchers in Nigeria.  It has been a great opportunity having MSKCC working in Africa.
KR:  How do you think your participation in this program has impacted your career and your future goals? 
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:  This one-year training program has increased my skill set in clinical research and allowed me to focus on developing a study that will, I believe, lead to an academic research publication.  It has placed me in a much stronger position to pursue my research goals and to publish qualitative articles.
KR:  What advice would you give to the next cohort participating in this program?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:  I would tell them that they should be committed to program.  It requires a high level of commitment. It involves travelling and networking, but it is worth every hour and every journey entailed. The program will of immense benefit to them.
    During the Harvard PPCR, I would suggest, if possible, for them to take some leave.  It will help with the demands of the program.  It is a big commitment, but I encourage them to prioritize the training opportunity because in the long run it is very useful.
KR:  What do you think is the biggest challenge for cancer research in Nigeria? 
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:  Laboratory back up.  We need well-equipped research laboratories, with world class equipments. We should be able to do genetics.  A well-equipped research lab is a key component to conducting excellent cancer research in Nigeria.
KR:  Was there value in all of the teamwork that this program involved?
Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji:  Our teamwork was invaluable.  Most of us are driven and very focused.  We learned as a team. Working together lead to collaboration efforts.  We were drawn from across Nigeria, the varied experiences provided a good mix of ideas and skills.
We were, therefore, able to support each other and built friendships and camaraderie which hopefully will lead to long-lasting and productive collaborations.
KR:  Thank you Dr. Bola-Oyebamiji.  We are delighted to have you in our first cohort of Clinical Research Scholars – and on another note, congratulations on your Pilot Grant Award for your research study:  Diagnostic Accuracy of Visual Inspection with Acetic and in a Population of Women Living with HIV in Osogbo

RA Spotlight

Mary Yetunde Ogunyemi
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC)

In this Newsletter we are excited to begin highlighting our ARGO research assistants. Our first spotlight features Mary Ogunyemi, one of our Research Assistants from OAUTHC.
Below please find an edited interview between Ms. Grace Fitzgerald, Clinical Research Coordinator, for the GCDI program and Ms. Mary Ogunyemi.


GF: How long have you been working with ARGO and what is your role?
MO: I have been working at ARGO for over two years. I started as a research assistant for the FIT study and I began working on the Breast study in April 2021.

GF: How did you get started in the research field?
MO: My work in research started during my National Compulsory Youth service when I was placed with the Public Health Institute at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). That was in 2014 and from then on, my interest in research grew. The first research study I was involved with was Save the Children International in Lagos. The study was conducted in different local governments in Lagos to assess the prevalence of diarrhea in children under the age of five. That study kickstarted my research work. I also worked in a research capacity with the Population Media Center, another international NGO working in the society for family health.

GF: Given the ARGO's work is international with MSKCC as a main partner, how has this international collaboration impacted your work?
MO: Working with international partners, and MSKCC in particular, has given me exposure to different cultures, international standards around research policy and ethics, and has also furthered my exposure to data management.

GF: What are your future aspirations and how will this position help you achieve those goals?
MO: I am planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology. The work I have done with ARGO and MSK is helping me prepare for that. My future work will require working in a biobank so the opportunity to do that at ARGO has been particularly helpful and it has also provided an opportunity to build up my management skills.

GF: What is your favorite aspect of your job?
MO: My favorite aspect is interacting with patients. Interactions with patients, data collection, and tissue collection are my favorite aspects. Through my interaction with patients, I have been able to listen to different opinions and perspectives. Patients share their challenges with me and I find often they may be more comfortable speaking with me about things they sometimes might not feel comfortable speaking about with their doctors. I share in their pain and try to support them and help them through difficult times in the ways I can. To me that is a way of reaching humanity and I count it all as joy.
GF: Are you able to tell us a little bit about the studies that you work on?
MO: Presently I am working on the Breast Database. It is a very large study that involves biobanking of tissue and keeping a database of breast cancer patients in Nigeria. The database involves the social demographic background of the patients, and their symptoms, when they started, what did they do when they discovered they were having symptoms. We counsel them on the need to present early to the hospital and to assure them of survivorship because most of them this this is death sentence. We take their tissue and blood samples to separate into buffy coats and plasma for biobanking for future analysis and genetic testing. We speak with them and call them on the phone every three months to ask them how they are doing and how their treatment is going. We are able to update our database while also keeping up with the patient.

GF: What is unique about working for ARGO?
MO: One of the unique aspects of working with ARGO is it's working condition; it is a blend of the usual laboratory research I'm familiar with as a microbiologist and social research. The work condition is also ICT driven which makes the activites easier with minimal risk.
GF: What motivates you to go to work every morning?
MO: The responsibilities I hold in this position motivate me every day. My patients motivate me. I feel like their lives depend on me. Every day I know a patient is coming in that needs my attention and my assistance. I am driven every day by the responsibility of serving my patients and trying to put a smile on their face. Also, an enabling working environment with vibrant and hardworking colleagues; PIs and managers can never be underestimated because they make the work less stressful.

GF: What have been your biggest accomplishments on the ARGO team?
MO: The ability to successfully manage the largest database of the organization, correct most errors on it and making sure to leave a positive impact on the mind and the heart of my patients.

GF: What's one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
MO:  I am a deaconess, and I am a chorister (a singer).

Research Updates

This past month the ARGO research scope has been growing. Two ARGO protocols have activated at new sites.
  • "Determining the Risk Factor Profile and Biology of Colorectal Cancer in Nigeria" activated at the National Hospital of Abuja.
  • "Empathic Communication Skills Training to Reduce Lung Cancer in Nigeria" activated at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex and University College Hospital, Ibadan.


Alatise OI, Dare AJ, Akinyemi PA, Abdulkareem FB, Olatoke SA, Knapp GC, Kingham TP, Colorectal cancer screening with fecal immunochemical testing: a community-based, cross-sectional study in average-risk individuals in Nigeria. Lancet Global Health. 2022; 10(11):e1012-e1022.

Kwakye G, Dally CK, Colorectal cancer screening in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet Global Health - Comment. 2022; 10(7): e938-939.

Mango VL, Olasehinde O, Omisore A, Wuraola FO, Famurewa OC, Sevilimedu V, et al.
The iBreastExam versus clinical breast examination for breast evaluation in high risk and symptomatic Nigerian women: a prospective study. Lancet Global Health. 2022; 10(4): e555-e563.

NgwaW, Addai BW, Adewole I, Ainsworth V, Kerr D, et al. Cancer in sub-Saharan Africa: a Lancet Oncology Commission. Lancet Oncology. 2022; 23: e251-312.


International Innovation Grant (IIG)

Provides research funding in support of novel and innovative projects that can have significant impact on cancer control in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 

Letter of Intent: August 31,2022
Full Application (by invitation only) Deadline: December 2, 2022

More information on this grant opportunity here.

Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe)

Provides early-career oncologists in low- to middle-income countries (LMICs) the support and resources needed to advance their training by deepening their relationship with a mentor at a host institution in the United States, Canada, or Europe during this one-year fellowship.

Application Deadline: January 31,2023

More information on this grant opportunity here.
Wellcome Career Development Awards

Provides funding for mid-career researchers from low- or middle-income countries in any discipline who have the potential to be international research leaders.

Application Deadline: December 1, 2022

More information on this grant opportunity here.

Upcoming Opportunities & Events

ASGCR 2023 Call for Scientific Sessions, Abstracts, and Pearline Award Nominations Now Open 

Submissions due December 30, 2022

The 11th Annual Symposium on Global Cancer Research (ASGCR2023) will be held virtually, April 4-6, 2023, prior to the 14th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Global Health Conference. The Symposium will feature presentations on cancer research and control programs that address the global burden of cancer. This year's theme is “Closing the Research-to-Implementation Gap.”

We are now accepting scientific session & abstract submissions! Share your latest work in global cancer research and control. 

In addition, the call for nominations for the 2023 Rachel Pearline Award is now open. The recipient of the award will be invited to give a keynote address at the Symposium during a session on April 6, 2023.

Submission guidelines and additional information can be found on the website

GCDI Monthly Program Meeting

If you would like to join our GCDI Program Meeting – it is held on the third Thursday of the month – lease see links below:
Join Zoom Meeting-November 17th – 5:30-6:30 p.m. EST
Meeting ID: 961 1634 9398
Passcode: 891581
Join Zoom Meeting- December 15th -5:30-6:30 p.m. EST
Meeting ID: 918 7283 4568
Passcode: 375811

Copyright © 2022 | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, All rights reserved.

Check out the ARGO website at:

Contact our Program Manager, Kate Randolph, with any questions, comments, or updates you would like highlighted in upcoming newsletters:

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