Employing institution: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana
Host institution: Institute for Global Food Security, University of Belfast, Ireland
Project title: Training on integrated clinico-chemical analysis for exploring aflatoxin poison and mitigation strategies towards building a food security program at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research
Dr Justice Kumi holds a PhD in Drug Discovery and Toxicology from The University of Cape Coast, Ghana. He is a Chief Research Assistant with the Clinical Pathology Department at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana. His research involves understanding the role environmental toxins (mycotoxins) poisoning play in predisposing humans to various diseases and find possible therapeutic intervention strategies to eliminate these toxins. He was inspired by Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu to apply for the AREF fellowship.
The fungi, Asperigillus flavus, and Asperigillus parasiticus are two main organisms that release aflatoxin. Cereals based-complementary foods in Ghana used to correct malnutrition are now contaminated by aflatoxin. Aflatoxin exposure has adverse effect on the liver, the immune system, affects trace elements (zinc, selenium), vitamins absorption and growth disorders. The toxicity of aflatoxin and its effect on child health has the potential of negatively affecting the Primary Health Care outcomes in Ghana. Intervention studies that is economically feasible and therapeutic in reducing aflatoxin bioavailability and controlling the intake of nutrients using aflatoxin binders is critical.
Dr Kumi will use his AREF fellowship to investigate strategies for reducing aflatoxin exposure, to help the development of policies in both clinical public health and animal health. His placement will be at the Institute for Global Food Security, an interdisciplinary global research centre at Queen’s University Belfast, a renowned research centre for Excellence on Agriculture and Food Safety. The fellowship will achieve the necessary training and capacity building to address the issue of food toxicology.
Justice will receive tremendous support from his home institute NMIMR, to deliver research activities and intervention strategies to address food safety, upon his return to Ghana, particularly homes to craft his grantsmanship so that he can lead application of grants to sustain the development of his research institute.