Meet Our Lab Heroes Awards 2018 Winner: Dr Enitome Bafor
We were delighted to name Dr. Enitome Evi Bafor as our Lab Heroes AwardsTM Winner for 2018, following so many heartfelt and passionate nominations from her colleagues that praised her academic achievements, passion, and dedication to her research.
Dr. Bafor (nee Efeturi) is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Benin Nigeria. She is the founder and lead researcher of the Reproductive Health / Ethnopharmacology Research Group (RHERG), Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Benin. The core interests of the group include promoting research into reproductive health issues that can be translated into therapeutic benefits. RHERG is currently in collaboration with several distinguished laboratories worldwide.
As well as numerous awards, accolades, and achievements (too many to list here!) Dr Bafor has over 40 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, she is also a reviewer for several scientific journals, and has made three book contributions. She is also involved in gender mainstreaming and research advocacy.
Currently, Dr. Bafor is the assistant Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Benin, a position she has held since 2016. By her appointment she became the first female assistant Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy since its inception in 1970. As the assistant Dean she organised the first ever Faculty Research Day in the University of Benin Nigeria in 2018 which was highly commended by her university administration. She is also married with three children.
We spoke to Dr Bafor about her win, her current research, the current challenges faced by life scientists in Nigeria, and more.
How did it feel when you found out that so many of your colleagues had nominated you as their Lab Hero?
It felt extremely amazing and wonderful to see so many colleagues nominate me. I was so touched and moved to see how they took their time to write such detailed comments – it speaks volumes of how much my efforts mean to them.
How did it feel when you found out you were our Lab Heroes Awards winner?
I was in disbelief but then got very excited very quickly. It was a moment of excited screams. I immediately called up one of my lab team members and screamed down the phone in excitement. She joined me in screaming and I could hear the rest of the team in the background screaming as well. It was one of those moments when you do not quite expect to win and then you do… an utterly wonderful feeling.
Why do you think it’s so important to champion life science researchers, and what more could be done to show life scientists recognition?
Researchers in life science put so much time, effort, and energy into getting good research done. Different regions and countries of course come with their different challenges as well. In spite of our hard work, we rarely get recognised or acknowledged. Very often some of us, especially the female researchers, get discouraged. Championing researchers therefore will make us motivated and it will make our younger colleagues inspired and motivated as well, knowing that their hard work will be acknowledged some day. It does not have to be a Nobel Prize, sometimes a simple kind word of acknowledgement does the trick in motivating us to stay on and do more.
What are you planning on using your Hello Bio vouchers and travel grant for?
For starters, I have asked my lab team members to each draw up a list of drugs that they have been unable to afford for their research, so I can include their drugs in my order. I have been unable to afford drugs for intracellular receptor signalling in the uterus and I will now unbelievably be ordering them, thank you Hello Bio.
I will use my travel grant to assist in flight fare to the National Cancer Institute / National Institute of Health, USA where I have been invited for a fellowship. I will acknowledge Hello Bio as part supporter in the outcome of my research from the fellowship.
Did you always want to be a scientist when you were younger, and why?
I wanted to be a Pharmacist actually, and I successfully accomplished that with my undergraduate degree. Soon after graduation I ventured into academia because I felt it offered more flexibility as a soon to be wife and mother. While in academia, my love for research grew to unimaginable heights.
Tell us a bit more about what you’re working on in the lab at the moment...
At the moment I am looking at oxidative stress signalling and its association with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I am trying to identify oxidative stress biomarkers associated with PCOS while also attempting to reverse PCOS symptoms by specifically targeting oxidative stress regardless of the initiating factors.
What does a typical day in the lab look like for you?
A typical day for me in the lab involves assisting any member of my research team who is working in the lab at the time in their experiments or research analysis. This can include cytology analysis, microscopic viewing, organ bath experiments and particularly data analysis.
What is it about your field of research that gets you most excited?
Knowing that research I do in my lab on the female reproductive system can contribute to developing knowledge in the field of women’s health. It is quite a complicated field and a bit of a pain sometimes to scientists, but I love the challenge studying the uterus brings.
What are the biggest challenges facing life scientists working in Nigeria, and globally?
In Nigeria, research funding is a huge problem. So is access to research resources, equipment, infrastructure, including access to scientific literatures and institutional internet access. Oftentimes to get good research done, we have to fund it from our personal income which can be quite discouraging. This also limits us from participating effectively in international competitions and grant applications. Globally, I think the challenges vary from region to region.
What advice would you give to life scientists just starting out in their careers?
For young scientists, I would say to them stay focused, stay determined, and believe in yourself. I would also add to them that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Put your very best into what you have chosen to do while still remaining flexible to allow for changes if needed. Things might appear slow or possibly not moving at all initially, but in time you will see massive rewarding changes.
Which scientists working today do you most admire, and why?
I admire quite a number of them really. Specifically, I admire Professor Susan Wray of the Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, UK and Dr. RuAngelie Edrada-Ebel of the University of Strathclyde, UK. I also admire Dr. Akhere Omonkhua of the University of Benin, Nigeria, another female scientist in Nigeria. These are women scientists who work really hard and have made a difference in their field of research.
What’s your favourite science joke or science quote?
I have a number of favourites, so I am going to give both a joke and a quote.
Joke: I may look like I’m not doing anything but at a cellular level I am quite busy.
Quote: “In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.” – Sir William Osler
What do you think is the greatest scientific discovery of all time?
This is a tough one… so I will make it simple and say the discovery of chocolate and chocolate products. They are delicious and comforting. Chocolate has some healthy bits and comes by combining ingredients from different parts of the world. It reminds us that every part of the world has something great to offer.
Thank you so much Dr Bafor for a wonderful interview, and congratulations once again! We wish you all the very best with your research, and look forward to keeping in touch.
Limited research funding? These resources might help...
If you, like Enitome, have difficulties obtaining funding, we have some resources that might be of some help:
- Apply for a Travel Grant: every month we give away $500 to PhD students and Postdocs so that they can attend a scientific conference. Give it a go - it's really easy to apply.
- And - when you get to the stage of planning your experiments, did you know that we offer a range of agonists, antagonists, inhibitors, activators, antibodies and fluorescent tools that are up to half the price of other suppliers (check out our price comparison table to see for yourself!). The range includes:
- We regularly offer free trial promotions and discounts (even on our already low prices) - so register for our technical alerts to be kept updated!
- And finally - don't forget to check back in to the Hello Bio Blog - with features and advice from experts, posts on lab support, events, competitions and some fun stuff along the way!