July 14, 2024

A United States of America-based Ghanaian scientist has been recognised for saving lives from tropical diseases.

Kojo Mensa-Wilmot was acknowledged by Kennesaw State University for his illustrious work.

The Mfantsipim alumnus has been studying the microbial parasites that cause fatal diseases in humans and animals for years, with the ultimate goal of developing drugs to save lives.

A professor of molecular and cellular biology and dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Kennesaw State, Mensa-Wilmot earned his PhD in DNA replication at Johns Hopkins University.

It was there that he first set about creating therapeutics for human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, a fatal parasitic disease often spread by tsetse flies.

“I grew up in Ghana, where diseases like sleeping sickness and malaria are common,” Mensa-Wilmot said.

“After I finished my PhD I realised I wanted to do something with impact, something that could help a lot of people.”

Mr Mensa-Wilmot has spent 14 years focused on searching for new treatments for sleeping sickness.

In his current stage of research, supported by a $3.3 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, he and fellow researchers replicate the DNA of the parasites that cause the disease in order to develop new drugs to kill those parasites.

In time, Mensa-Wilmot said, his research can have applications in tropical settings throughout the world.

The prospect of bringing viable therapeutic drugs to hundreds of millions of people in Africa, tropical Asia, and South America keeps Mensa-Wilmot engaged through his work as a researcher, professor, and dean.

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