Nigerian-born Cell biologist, Tobiloba Oni Honoured in U.S. for His Research on Cancer


By Henry Iheanacho

Nigerian-born cell biologist, Tobiloba Oni, has been appointed as a Whitehead Fellow in the United States of America following his graduate research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory which helped open new paths for understanding, detecting, and potentially treating pancreatic cancer.

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He will join Whitehead Institute and launch his independent research career in February 2021.

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“Tobi brings immense creativity and technical insight to the search for ways to prompt the immune system to more effectively recognize and destroy malignant cells in the microtumor environment,” observes Institute director Ruth Lehmann.

“We are so pleased to have him joining our cohort of dynamic, early career investigators,” She added.

Oni grew up in Ikare-Akoko, Nigeria, and in 2011, earned a BSc in Biology from University of New York at Plattsburgh. He also bagged a PhD in cell and molecular biology in 2020 from Stony Brook University.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to uncover new insights about one of the most challenging human diseases.

“And I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with and learning from world-class researchers like Bob Weinberg and Rick Young, who are pioneering new ways of understanding cancer’s basic functions,” he said.

Ginna Crochets 

Oni’s graduate work focused on developing tools for the early detection of pancreatic cancer, and on identifying the mechanisms that drive malignant progression. He also generated antibodies to abnormal proteins on the cell-surface of tumor cells, which are now being used to develop more effective methods for detecting pancreatic cancer.

At Whitehead Institute, the young man will focus on uncovering mechanisms for the poor anti-tumour immune response to pancreatic cancer and work to develop novel ways of promoting tumour clearance by immune cells.

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