Employing institution: Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria) 

Host institution: University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) 

Project title: Training and Capacity Building in Nephrogenomics.

Dr Hassan obtained his undergraduate medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University and postgraduate training in Nephrology at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (Nigeria) and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (South Africa). During his PhD at Wits, he studied the role of circulating endotoxaemia and gene variations as risk factors for atherosclerosis in chronic kidney disease patients. He is currently a Lecturer/Consultant Nephrologist with Obafemi Awolowo University and Teaching Hospital. His research interests include exploring the genetic component of cardiovascular and kidney health disparities among indigenous Africans.

AREF Fellowship Research Project:

Kidney tubular dysfunction (KTD) is a well-recognized complication among HIV patients receiving treatment known as tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF). Variations in the genes encoding kidney drug transporters have been shown to be associated with TDF-induced KTD. Whether individuals who expressed these genes in blood and urine are more susceptible than those without such genetic expression remains to be discovered.

His main research question is to assess if small molecules known as microRNA are associated with TDF- induced KTD, its risk factors, or biomarkers. Using techniques to measure gene expression, a gene signature that predicts KTD will be identified and this will form the basis of his future studies. This study will further provide new insights into the link between kidney genetics and chronic kidney disease risk factors among indigenous Africans.

His fellowship will take place at the University of the Witwatersrand with Prof Raquel Duarte. He will visit the Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research and University of Bristol to train in RNA profiling using Next Generation Sequencing. The skills learned will directly impact and inform his teaching and future work to build capacity at local universities.

“The fellowship will equip me with essential tools and resources in order to employ bioinformatics approaches to the design and implementation of clinically based–omic studies.”