Rufus Akinyemi has a passion for collaborative work to improve brain health in Africa. His clinical, research and advocacy work centre on vascular and degenerative brain disorders particularly stroke and vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID).
His passion to make a difference led him to establish a grass root stroke initiative, the Abeokuta Stroke Foundation in southwestern Nigeria and he’s currently serving as Secretary of the Nigerian Stroke Organization (NSO) as well as a member of the Steering Committee of the WHO-WSO- Lancet Commission on Stroke in Low and Middle Income Countries. Working with other leaders in the African stroke community and supported by leaders in the global community, Rufus is leading the establishment of the African Stroke Organization (ASO). The ASO is a pan – African coalition of stroke researchers, clinicians, other healthcare professionals, national and regional stroke societies and stroke support organizations (SSOs) with passion for stroke care, research, education and advocacy. In tandem with the vision of the WSO, the ASO is aimed at reducing the burden of stroke in Africa through multidisciplinary research and capacity building, promoting the development of effective stroke prevention and intervention services, enhancing stroke awareness, advocating for stroke survivors and their families/caregivers and driving the formulation of stroke - friendly policies across multiple levels of policy makers across African nations. ASO plans to be people – focused and work with relevant regional and global partners to positively influence policies and practice regarding stroke in Africa.
Rufus Akinyemi is a neurophysician – scientist who uses the tools of genomics, epidemiology and implementation science to tackle vascular brain disorders and promote brain health, particularly in people of African ancestry. He is currently playing a leading role in the largest-ever study of stroke in Africa, the SIREN/SIBS Genomics Study funded by the NIH within the H3Africa Consortium. The study aims to unravel the genetic architecture of stroke in people of African ancestry and learn how these genes interplay with environmental factors. His FLAIR research is exploring the genetic basis of cognitive dysfunction after stroke. Findings from these studies will deepen our understanding of the mechanisms of vascular brain injury and inform how best to control vascular and other risk factors of stroke and VCID, including insights into new approaches to treatment. He also leads the IBADAN Brain Bank Project and the African Neurobiobank for Precision Stroke Medicine ELSI Study within the H3Africa Consortium and funded by the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute.
Rufus Akinyemi is the deputy director of the Centre for Genomics and Precision Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is also a senior research fellow in the Neuroscience and Ageing Research Unit, Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and a consultant neurologist to the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He’s a senior atlantic fellow of the Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin Ireland/University of California at San Francisco, USA and a pioneer FLAIR research fellow of the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, UK. He holds a PhD from Newcastle University, United Kingdom; an MSc in Cell Biology and Genetics and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He undertook his residency training in Internal Medicine and Neurology at the University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria and holds a membership of the West African College of Physicians and fellowship in neurology of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria. Rufus has served on several committees of the WSO including the young stroke professionals, education, world stroke campaign and 2018 WSC international scientific committee. He has won several awards, scholarships, and fellowships, including the James Kimani Award of the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa, the Bruce Schoenberg International Award in Neuroepidemiology of the American Academy of Neurology and the Atlantic fellowship of the Global Brain Health Institute. He has over 100 peer-reviewed publications including papers in Brain, Lancet and Science.
Achieving our vision of a life free from stroke is a task that WSO cannot achieve alone. We are committed to building our partnerships at the global, regional and national level to scale up and deliver improvements in prevention, treatment and support to reduce the burden of stroke.