Prof. Joseph O. Nwankwo



First Name Joseph
Middle Name (initial) O.
Surname Nwankwo
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2013-Date Professor (Med. Biochemistry), Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike
2010-2013 Professor (Biochemistry), Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike
2005-2008 Research Scientist, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA


Brief Biography: Joseph O. Nwankwo is a Professor and pioneering Head of the Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences. He has a background in Molecular Biochemistry as applicable to Cancer Research. He obtained his first degree in Biochemistry from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1977. After his appointment as a Graduate Assistant at University of Sokoto in 1978, he fortunately underwent an accelerated postgraduate programme from 1979 to 1982, skipping the M Sc, to obtain his doctorate degree from Oxford University, England in 1982. He has at various times taught, Nucleic Acids, Molecular Oncology, Pharmacological Biochemistry, and Genetic Engineering at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Sokoto University (1982 – 1985); University of Ibadan (1985 – 1996); Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (2010 – 2013), and Ebonyi State University (2013 – 2014), in Nigeria.

In between these appointments and sometimes concurrently, he has received several international research fellowships beginning with a British Council Fellowship, tenable at Oxford University (1985); an International Cancer Research Technology Transfer Fellowship tenable at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (I.A.R.C.), Lyons, France (1986); a World Health Organization (WHO) Cancer Research Fellowship tenable at the Kenneth Norris Cancer Centre, University of S. California, Los Angeles, USA (1989 – 1990), further extended by the host institution for two more years (1990 – 1992); a National Institute of Health (N.I.H., USA) Grant (NHLBI Number HL 49264: 2000 – 2002); and a N.I.H (Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award) Fellowship: 2002 – 2004; to study transcriptional regulation of the human FADS2 gene, both tenable at the Biochemistry Department, University of Iowa, Iowa State, USA. He was also an Associate Scientist in Surgical Oncology, University of Wisconsin Medical School and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Madison, Wisconsin (2005 – 2008). His penultimate appointment was as a Professor of Biochemistry and Director, The Centre for Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (2010 – 2013), before his current appointment at our Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo.

He has published widely in his area of research expertise and in such international journals as: “Anticancer Research”, “European Journal of Cancer Prevention”, “Oral Oncology”, “Advances in Cancer Prevention”, etc. He is sole author of a book titled: “Potential anticancer and antiviral agents from West African phytochemicals”, UNN Press; 193 pages. ISBN: 978-978-53040-4-6 (July, 2011). He was a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (from 1990); American Association for the Advancement of Science (from 2002); The Nigerian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (from 1987); and The Science Association of Nigeria: Life Member (Council Member: 1984-1988). He holds a US joint patent for the phospholipid ether analog NM404, which radiolabel (I*-NM404), is a novel tumor-selective, diagnostic imaging and therapeutic agent for human cancers (United States Patent # 07632644, Celectar, December, 2009). External Examiner for Ph D theses at the University of Ibadan, 2012 and 2014. External Examiner for the 2nd MBBS Exams at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, 2015, 2016 and 2018. External Assessor for Professorial promotion, Ebonyi State University, 2011, etc.


S/N Institutions Attended Degree(s) Awarded Year
1 University of Oxford, England D Phil (oxon), biochemistry 1982
2 University of Ibadan, Nigeria B.Sc (hons), biochemistry 1977


1 Discovery and mechanisms of action for anticancer synthetic and natural products.
2 Medical Biotechnology:Transcriptional regulation and expression of genes.



1 American Association for Cancer Research (1990 – 2007)
2 American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002 – 2007)
3 The Biochemical Society of Nigeria (from 1987)
4 The Science Association of Nigeria: Life Member (Council Member: 1984-1988)

Selected publications (WITH LINKS WHERE AVAILABLE)

1 Nwankwo,  J.O. (July, 2011). Title: “Potential anticancer and antiviral agents from West African phytochemicals”. University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Press; 193 pages. ISBN: 978-978-53040-4-6.
2 Azubuike P. Ebokaiwe AP, Ijomoneb OM, Griffin S, Ehiri RC, Obeten KE, Nwankwo JO, Ejike CECC, Keck CM. (2019). Nanosized selenium and Loranthus micranthus leaves ameliorate streptozotocin-induced hepato-renal dysfunction in rats via enhancement of antioxidant system, regulation of caspase 3 and Nrf2 protein expression. Pharmanutrition 9:100150.
3 Nwankwo J.O. (2017). Anticancer potentials of phytochemicals from some indigenous food and medicinal plants of West Africa. Adv Cancer Prev. 2: 124. doi:  10.4172/2472-0429.1000124. (Review article).
4 Farshi P., Nwankwo J.O., Dou Q.P. (2015). Deubiquitinases (DUBs) and DUB inhibitors: a patent review. Expert Opin. Ther. Patents. 25(10):1191-1208. (Review article).
5 Nwankwo, J.O., Spector, A.A., and Domann, F.E. (2003). A nucleotide insertion in the transcriptional regulatory region of FADS2 gives rise to human fatty acid delta-6-desaturase deficiency. J. Lipid. Res. 44: 2311-2319.
6 Nwankwo, J.O.  (2002). Anti-metastatic activities of all-trans retinoic acid, indole-3-carbinol and (+)-catechin in Dunning rat invasive prostate adenocarcinoma cells. Anticancer Res. 22(6C): 4129-4135.
7 Nwankwo, J.O., Tahnteng, J.G., Emerole, G.O. (2000). Inhibition of aflatoxin B1 genotoxicity in human liver-derived HepG2 cells by kolaviron biflavonoids and molecular mechanisms of action. Eur. J. Cancer Prev. 9: 351-361.
8 Nwankwo, J.O. (2001). Repression of cellular anaplerosis as the hypothesized mechanism of gamma-linolenic acid-induced toxicity to tumor cells. Med. Hypotheses 56(5): 582-588.
9  Nwankwo, J.O., Robbins, M.E.C. (2001). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ expression in human malignant and normal brain, breast and prostate-derived cells. Prost. Leukot. Essent. Fatty Acids. 64(4 & 5): 241-245.
10 Timmons, S., Nwankwo, J.O., Domann, F.E. (2002). Acetaldehyde activates Jun/AP-1 expression and DNA binding activity in human oral keratinocytes. Oral Oncol 38(3): 281-90.


1 Joint Patent HOLDER  for the phospholipid ether NM404, which radiolabel (I*-NM404), is a novel tumor-selective, diagnostic imaging and therapeutic agent for human cancers. (United States Patent # 07632644, Celectar, December, 2009).


1 Gene expression analysis to evaluate the pleiotropic induction of hepato-protective genes by kolaviron, a potential cancer chemopreventive agent. Nigerian Govt. ETF TET-Fund Grant Award. May – Aug, 2012. Host: Holden Comprehensive Cancer Centre, University of Iowa, Iowa State. Award Amount: N2,534,080.00.
2 Further studies on transcriptional regulation of human fatty acid D-6 desaturase (FADS2) gene. Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award fellowship. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH, U.S.A., ($75,000.00 p.a.); Oct., 2002 –Sep. 2004. (Biochemistry Department, University of Iowa).
3 Molecular mechanisms of human fatty acid D-6 desaturase (FADS2) gene expression.  National Inst. Of Health (N.I.H., U.S.A.) Grant NHLBI Number HL 49264 ($75,000.00 p.a.); March, 2000 to Sep., 2002. (Biochemistry Department, University of Iowa).
4 Inherited defects of the carcinogen-metabolism gene, Glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and its contribution to the aetiology of liver cancer. Univ. of Ibadan Research Project Grant. Mar., 1993. Award amount: N80,000.00
5 FELLOWSHIP 1: Cancer Research Fellow (Kenneth Norris Cancer Center, University of Southern California, Sponsor:  International Agency for Research on Cancer (I.A.R.C.), Lyon, France, August 1989 – July 1990.
6 Fellowship 2: International Cancer Research Technology Transfer (I.C.R.E.T.T.) Fellow (I.A.R.C., Lyon, France), Sponsor:  International Union Against Cancer, (World Health Organization), Geneva, Switzerland, Sept/Oct 1986.
7 FELLOWSHIP 3: British Council Fellow (Oxford University), Sponsor:  The British Council (August – October, 1985).
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