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Malachy Ifeanyi Okeke

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Malachy Ifeanyi Okeke is a Nigerian-born Virologist. He joined the American University of Nigeria (AUN) from GenOk-Center for Biosafety Tromso Norway in August 2018. Prior to joining AUN, Dr. Okeke was the head of department (HOD) and Research Associate Professor at the Department of Virology and Vaccines at GenOk Tromso Norway (2012-2018). Dr. Okeke graduated with a First-Class Honors degree in Microbiology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) in 1992 and was the valedictorian for the 1992 graduating class. In 2003 and 2007 respectively, he earned MPhil and Ph.D. degrees in Medical Biology (Molecular Virology) from the University of Tromsø Norway. In his Ph.D. work, he investigated recombination between poxvirus-vectored vaccines and naturally circulating poxviruses.

Dr. Okeke did his postdoctoral work (2008-2010) in the laboratory of Professor Terje Traavik at GenØk Norway where he mapped naturally occurring and transgenic orthopoxviruses. From 2011 to 2018 at GenØk Tromsø Norway, he was Principal Investigator of research projects investigating the efficacy and biosafety of recombinant poxvirus-vectored vaccines against infectious diseases and cancers.

His research works at GenOk Norway contributed to the national and international recognition of GenOk Tromso Norway as a center of excellence on the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of virus-vectored vaccines and virus-vectored gene therapy products. Consequently, Dr. Okeke served as the consulted expert and scientific advisor to the Norwegian Environmental Agency and the European Medicine Agency (EMA). Dr. Okeke has teaching experience of over two decades at universities in Nigeria and Norway. He has taught courses in Virology, Microbiology, Immunology, Mammalian Cell Culture, Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics, Microbial Genetics, Genomics, General Biology, etc. at the graduate and undergraduate levels and has successfully supervised bachelor, master, and Ph.D. students.

Dr. Okeke have published 33 scholarly articles in high impact factor peer refereed international journals including Nature Reviews Microbiology, Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers in Public Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Viruses, Journal of General Virology, Virology Journal, Vaccine, Journal of Global Health, Phytotherapy Research, etc. and have published over 40 technical reports and conference papers. His google scholar H-index and i10 index are 16 and 22 respectively while his Scopus H-index is 13 and his journal articles have been cited over 1620 times. Indeed Dr. Okeke Author Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) for the past ten years (2013-2022) is four times higher than the global average (4.553 and 3.309 for lead (last) and corresponding author respectively, and this excellent research impact is in part driven by his research at American University of Nigeria (AUN)  investigating emerging virus pathogens particularly monkepox virus, coronavirus and lassa fever virus. Dr. Okeke also peer-review manuscripts for prestigious biomedical journals including Lancet Microbes, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Scientific Report, Viruses, etc. 


His current research interest is in the development of recombinant vaccines against infectious diseases and cancers, virus metagenomics and whole-genome sequencing, infectious disease modelling and immunoinformatics as well as genome surveillance of human and animal viruses. Dr. Okeke is also interested in understanding the impact of modern biotechnologies (genetic engineering, genome editing, and synthetic biology) on human and ecosystem health.

Ongoing research in his laboratory at AUN and collaborating laboratories around the world include (i) development of recombinant vaccines against infectious diseases and neoplasms, (ii) evolution of monkeypox virus in Nigeria and globally, (iii) SARS-CoV-2 evolution, modelling, and therapeutics (iv) genomics of naturally and genetically modified poxviruses in Fennoscandia, (v) virus metagenomics, (vi) molecular epidemiology of viral and bacterial pathogens in Nigeria, (vi) antibiotic resistance in bacteria and gene flow, (vii) isolation and characterization of phages and its application to phage therapy,  (viii) antimicrobial activity of medicinal plants and (ix) biosafety, biosecurity and bioethics of modern biotechnology. Dr. Okeke is a member of professional associations including the International Society for Global Health (ISoGH), the European Society for Virology, and the Norwegian Society for Microbiology and Biochemistry.

Eductional Background:

PhD in Medical Biology (Virology), University of Tromsø, Norway. 2007

MPhil in Medical Biology (Virology), University of Tromsø Norway. 2003

B.Sc, First Class Honors (Microbiology), University of Nigeria Nsukka. 1992

  • Genomics and metagenomics of viruses and other infections agents
  • Bioinformatics and system biology of viruses and their hosts
  • Evolution and molecular epidemiology of human and animal viruses
  • Poxvirus vectored vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer
  • Infectious disease modelling, immunoinformatics and computer assisted drug discovery
  • Genome editing for drug and vaccine discovery
  • Gene flow of antibiotic resistance genes
  • Phage therapy and the evolution of bacteriophages
  • Antimicrobial activity of medicinal plants and natural products
  • Biosafety, biosecurity, and bioethics of modern biotechnology

BIO 103 – Essentials of Nutrition

BIO 121 – Introduction to Biology II

BIO 230 – Molecular Genetics

BIO 240 – Microbiology and Immunology

  • International Society for Global Health (ISoGH), Full Member, 2020 -Date
  • European Society for Virology. Full Member, 2007 – Date
  • Norwegian Society for Microbiology and Biochemistry. Full Member, 2004 – Date