NIEHS Trainee Spotlight – Nnamdi Osakwe

Nnamdi Osakwe

Nnamdi Osakwe is a trainee at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) SRP Center. Osakwe is part of the center’s Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC).

Tell us about your work with the NCSU SRP Center.
The purpose of my research is to understand the relationship between environmental exposures and human health outcomes in populations disproportionately exposed to poor environmental quality and social inequities, or environmental health disparities. By using bioinformatic techniques —collecting, storing, and analyzing biological data — I hope to provide affected communities and policymakers with data on environmental quality and its effects on human health.

How did you become interested in this work?
As an undergraduate at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of ClarLynda Williams-DeVane to use bioinformatics to study the health disparities surrounding diseases like asthma, diabetes, and obesity. Recognizing the knowledge gaps in health disparities research and the lack of diverse researchers addressing these problems fueled me to pursue this area further.

You recently received a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. Tell us about it.
This is a supplement to the center’s DMAC grant and will provide me with the necessary resources to adequately target and study areas disproportionally exposed to contaminants of top priority to SRP, like PFAS. Receiving this supplemental grant confirmed and validated that my research is essential and meaningful to SRP — and to NIEHS as a whole.

Tell us about a project that excites you.
I am collaborating on a project to study the relationship between green spaces and their effects on biological aging, one of the risk factors for many human diseases. I get to combine many of my interests in this project: bioinformatics, environmental health, public health, and health disparities. I am thankful I can pursue my interests while helping to make positive change for often-ignored communities.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with other SRP trainees?
Patience is key. There is no doubt that graduate school will test your patience in many ways but learning to persevere and take challenges one step at a time has helped me get through this experience. Although it can seem long and difficult, consistent, and gradual progress will eventually lead you to achieve your goals.

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