A Legacy of Healing Minds: Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi, CoMUI MBBS Class of 1998, Clinches 2023 NAS Gold Medal in Life Sciences

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. AMEN. 2 Corinthians 4:7


In a landmark announcement, the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has proudly bestowed the 2023 NAS Gold Medal Prize for Life Sciences upon Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi – an eminent and noteworthy professor in Geriatric Neurology and Translational Neuroscience at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (CoMUI).

In a press release signed by Dr. Sonny Folorunso Kuku FAS OFR, the Chairman of the NAS Science Prize Committee, he highlighted the profound impact of Professor Akinyemi's decade-long research journey. His focus on stroke, post-stroke vascular cognitive impairment, and dementia (PSVCID), coupled with stroke biobanking, has yielded groundbreaking results with potential implications for millions of individuals globally.

Professor Akinyemi's work has significantly advanced the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying vascular cognitive impairment and dementia, particularly emphasizing the role of neuroinflammation in the pathobiology of these disorders. In the face of a rising global prevalence, his research has shed light on the genetic epidemiology of strokes among individuals with African ancestry, uncovering novel targets for prevention and demonstrating the feasibility of precision treatment.

The announcement lauded Professor Akinyemi for his contributions to the epidemiology of dementia in Africa, as well as his insights into the molecular mechanisms of vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). Under his leadership, the largest neurobiobank in Africa was established, housing over 170,000 blood fractions, including extracted DNA, from stroke patients and control subjects.

This well-deserved recognition positions Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi as a trailblazer in the life sciences, setting his place among the most influential scientists of our time. The NAS Gold Medal, comprising a medal, a certificate, and a purse, will be presented to him during the Fifth NAS Annual Scientific Conference on the 24th of January 2024, in Lagos, Nigeria.


A Personal Note from the Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan

Once again, I am extremely proud and delighted to spotlight a brilliant researcher and professor of Geriatric Neurology and Translational Neuroscience at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi, who has been honoured with the prestigious 2023 NAS Gold Medal Prize for Life Sciences. When I say our researchers are the brightest and best of their peers, here is another proof!

I have been quite vocal about the value of research in driving knowledge production and other associated benefits to our institutions. Professor Akinyemi's exceptional scholarship is a testament to this belief. His involvement in numerous research grants and projects showcases the breadth and depth of his contributions. From leading projects such as the Cognitive Functions After Stroke in Nigeria (CogFAST –NG) to pioneering the African Neurobiobank for Precision Stroke Medicine (ELSI Project), Professor Akinyemi has consistently demonstrated leadership and innovation in the field. These projects, funded by prestigious institutions like NIH, USA, World Federation of Neurology, and UK Royal Society, underline his commitment to advancing medical science.

As I celebrate our dear Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi, I believe this moment belongs to his wife, Mrs. Tolulope Olanike Akinyemi, an exceptional biomedical scientist in her own right, and their four wonderful children. A strong family unit is the foundation that supports the monumental achievements of individuals like Professor Akinyemi, providing the resilience needed for impactful contributions to society.

However, this recognition is not just a personal triumph but also a victory for research. It highlights the great value that products of our institution generate across the country and all over the world. And for this, I am deeply happy for our institution and grateful to God – the giver of all good gifts!

Long may the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan continue to thrive! Amen.

Olayinka Omigbodun FAS

Professor of Psychiatry & Provost



 Prof. R. Akinyemi2Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi MBBS (Ib), MSc (Ib), PhD (Newcastle) MWACP, FMCP, FGBHI. FAMedS


Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi, winner of the 2023 Gold Medal Prize of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), is a proud alumnus of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan having graduated in 1998. He undertook his professional postgraduate training (Residency) in Internal Medicine between 2001 and 2007 at the Department of Medicine of the University College Hospital, Ibadan and obtained the fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in Internal Medicine and Neurology in 2006.  He obtained a master’s degree in Cell Biology and Genetics from the Department of Zoology, University of Ibadan in 2007 and a PhD from the Newcastle University, United Kingdom in 2014.

Following a stint at the Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta, Nigeria where he co-pioneered the Internal Medicine Residency Training Programme, served as Head of Department of Medicine, and pioneered several other initiatives, he joined the services of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in April 2015 as a senior research fellow in the Neuroscience and Ageing Research Unit, Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training (IAMRAT) of the College of Medicine. He is also the deputy director of the fledging Centre for Genomic and Precision Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. He holds joint academic appointments in the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. He is an honorary consultant neurologist to the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria, and a visiting researcher at the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle -upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. He is also a senior Atlantic fellow of the Global Brain Health Institute [GBHI] based at the Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and University of California at San Francisco, USA as well as a pioneer FLAIR fellow of the Royal Society UK and the African Academy of Sciences.

Prof Akinyemi is an accomplished physician – scientist with research focus on vascular and degenerative brain disorders, particularly stroke and dementia using a bench - bedside – community translational research framework.

He has been involved as project leader, co-investigator, theme lead and/or principal investigator on several grants on collaborative projects that are deepening our understanding of the genetic epidemiology and neurobiology of stroke and dementia, particularly in populations of African ancestry and pioneering neurobiobanking in Africa. Working with Professors Mayowa Owolabi DSc, FAS and Bruce Ovbiagele FAS, FAAN, Professor Akinyemi co-established the NIH-funded SIREN/SIBS Genomics Study, the largest study of stroke in Africa and has served as the Genomic and Biobanking Lead. And following in the footsteps of his mentors, Professor Adesola Ogunniyi MD, FAS and Raj Kalaria DSc, FRCP, he’s the African lead of new NIH/National Institutes of Aging – funded international genetic studies of Alzheimer’s Disease in people of African and Hispanic ancestries (the READD – ADSP and ORIGINS Projects) which involve nine African countries. Akinyemi pioneered the IBADAN Brain Bank Project (first organized brain bank in Africa) and leads the NIH/NHGRI - funded African Neurobiobank for Precision Stroke Medicine ELSI Study within the H3Africa Consortium

Stemming from the public health implications of his group’s research and the need to improve public understanding of stroke and dementia, he led the establishment of the Abeokuta Stroke Foundation, the African Stroke Organization (ASO) and the African Dementia Consortium (AfDC) respectively, to harness the power of diversity, inclusion, collaboration, and teamwork to build strong, enduring and impactful platforms to defeat stroke and dementia locally and continentally.  He has further developed educational materials to promote public awareness and understanding of stroke, dementia and neurobiobanking. These materials target the lay public, people at risk, caregivers, religious leaders, health workers and policy makers with demonstrable effectiveness.

He has served on the steering committees of the H3Africa Consortium, International Stroke Genetics Consortium, the WSO – WHO - Lancet Neurology Commission on Stroke and on the executive committees of the Nigerian Stroke Organization (NSO) and the Vascular Cognitive Disorders PIA (VPIA), International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART).  He serves on the editorial boards of multiple first-grade peer-review international journals and reviews for >25 including the Lancet and Nature journals. He has served as an external examiner to multiple universities including the University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela University, South Africa and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. 

He leads/serves on multiple committees within the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and provides pastoral care for patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals and students as an assistant pastor in the hospital-based Christ’s Chapel, University College Hospital, Ibadan.

He has won several other international awards, scholarships, and fellowships in his burgeoning career, including the James Kimani Award of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa, the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) Research Fellowship and the Bruce Schoenberg International Award in Neuroepidemiology of the American Academy of Neurology.

He has written or collaborated on more than 220 publications featured in esteemed peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature. In terms of scholarly impact, he holds a Scopus h-index of 48, 17,397 citations in the Scopus database, a Google Scholar h-index of 54, with a noteworthy 58,816 citations according to Google Scholar. These metrics attest to the substantial influence and productivity he has demonstrated in the field of scientific and medical research.      

He is happily married to Mrs Tolulope Olanike Akinyemi, a biomedical scientist with interest in clinical haematology/blood transfusion science and blood-based biomarkers of brain health and the union is blessed with four excellent children.

Prof. R. Akinyemi3Professor Rufus Olusola Akinyemi with his beautiful wife, Mrs. Tolulope Olanike Akinyemi



Prof. R. Akinyemi4


Prof. R. Akinyemi5


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