Elvis Akwo, Ph.D., M.S.

Early on as a medical student in Cameroon I became aware of the increasing burden of chronic conditions in a region of the world where infectious diseases had traditionally been the major public health concern. This got me interested in diabetes-related research, and I carried out my MD thesis on diabetic kidney disease. Upon completing my MD training I worked as a clinician and a research associate in the endocrine and diabetes center in Cameroon, where I did some preliminary work on dyslipidemia and diabetic microvascular complications, the results of which were presented at the World Diabetes Congress in 2006. I was equally involved in the International HbA1c Standardization study, the main aim of which was to correlate glycated hemoglobin levels with mean blood glucose and a clinical investigation of the correlation between insulin sensitivity and measures of adiposity in African adults with no known history of dysglycemia. In addition, I became a co-investigator for one of the study sites in the Type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium, an international, multicenter project organized to promote research to identify alleles that determine an individual's risk for type 1 diabetes. Wake Forest University School of Medicine coordinated this project, which led me to pursue a Master's in Clinical and Translational Sciences at this institution. As a research scholar in the Department of Epidemiology, I was involved in two main studies: The first centered on investigating the determinants of brain natriuretic peptide in diabetic subjects, while the second focused on the prediction of incident diabetes using a panel of biomarkers.

After completing my Masters training I decided to pursue doctoral studies in epidemiology at Vanderbilt University to develop as an independent translational researcher. Along with Dr. Lipworth, Dr. Blot, and the SCCS team, I currently investigate the relationship between obesity (and its metabolic correlates including inflammation and insulin resistance) and end-stage renal disease.

Why Vanderbilt?
Robust quantitative methods are fundamental to the good conduct of epidemiologic research and the Vanderbilt program focuses on imparting a combination of critical understanding of statistical theory and the acquisition of strong quantitative skills. The fact that students are paired with research preceptor teams from the outset provides the opportunity to work with real data, participate in interesting research projects and develop insights for new studies. In addition the classes are small and instructors are very nice, making for a great learning environment.

Personal Quote
"The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness." - Pierre Simon Laplace.