Dementia Research Group

Despite the increasing incidence of dementia in Africa, there is a substantial knowledge gap, particularly in the understanding of its genetics and primary causes within the Northern Nigerian population—a region renowned for its cultural diversity and as the most populous in Nigeria.

Our group, a consortium of dedicated clinicians and basic scientists across various institutions:

  • BioRTC at Yobe State University
  • Yobe State University Teaching Hospital
  • Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Maiduguri
  • Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu
  • Yobe State Specialist Hospital Potiskum
  • University of Maiduguri
  • Gombe State University

Our mission is to deepen our understanding of dementia in Northern Nigeria by:

  • Establishing robust patient cohorts from our region for comprehensive genetic and biomarker studies to unravel the biological underpinnings of dementia.
  • Creating an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) biobank to explore the unique characteristics of dementia within our demographic, thereby contributing to the global understanding of the disease.

Our consortium is working towards expanding our network to include more hospitals and institutions in the future. By integrating patient care with cutting-edge research and leveraging our profound connections with local communities, we aim to enhance the understanding of dementia within our societies.

Dr Mahmoud Bukar Maina Dementia group BIORTC

Dr Mahmoud Bukar Maina

Dr. Maina is the Principal Lead of the Dementia Group. He holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Sussex during which he revealed the localization of tau in the nucleolar remodelling complex in cultured cells and human brains and its role in nucleolar transcription and nucleolar stress response. His findings significantly aided the development of a new field focusing on tau biology in the nucleus. Dr. Maina continued his investigation as a postdoctoral fellow in the Serpell lab using a combination of biophysics, cell culture, and high-content imaging, leading him to show that 1) paired helical filaments in Alzheimer’s disease are crosslinked via ditorysine bonds, a process that triggers the formation of insoluble tau in vitro. 2) the self-assembly process of amyloid beta is critical for its toxicity, explaining why oligomers confer more toxicity than amyloid beta fibrils. Recognizing the potential influence of ancestral backgrounds on nucleolar pathways and tauopathies, and acknowledging the underrepresentation of Africans in tauopathy research despite Africa’s rich genetic diversity, Dr. Maina took the initiative to bridge this research gap. Through collaborations with group members in the Dementia Research Group, Dr Maina’s team is pioneering the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from indigenous Nigerians to understand the role of African genetic background to dementia mechanisms.

Prof. ibrahim Abdu Wakawa BIORTC Dementia research group

Prof. Ibrahim Abdu Wakawa

Prof. Ibrahim Abdu Wakawa is the Chief Medical Director and a Chief Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Maiduguri (FNPH), Borno State. He is also the Investigator of BioRTC’s Dementia Research Group at FNPH, which is one of eight specialized hospitals dedicated to mental health and neurological disorders across Nigeria, and notably, the only such establishment catering to the vast population of over 30 million in the Northeast region. He graduated with distinction from the University of Maiduguri and is a certified addiction practitioner. As a figure in the Nigerian medical landscape, Prof. Wakawa has initiated and overseen numerous projects aimed at enhancing medical infrastructure and patient care. He is currently the Vice President of the International Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP) Nigeria chapter and has over 50 academic publications.

Dr Baba Goni Waru BIORTC DEmentia Research Group

Dr Baba Goni Waru

Dr. Baba Waru Goni serves as the Chief Medical Director at the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital Damaturu and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at both the University of Maiduguri and Yobe State University. At BioRTC, he is a Principal Investigator with a primary focus on Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine, and Immunology. Additionally, Dr. Goni is deeply involved in dementia research, particularly in understanding its prevalence and characteristics in the Northeastern Nigerian population, and leads the dementia research group at the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital. His role at BioRTC extends to collaborations on the intersection of basic science research and clinical patient care.

Dr. Goni earned his MBBS from the University of Maiduguri in 1998 and specialized in Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine, and Immunology. He was awarded the Fellowship of the West African College of Physicians in 2008 and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2009. Furthering his education, he pursued an MSc in Tropical Medicine and International Health at the LSHTM UK and obtained a DTM&H from the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2012. In his current capacity, he contributes to health administration and system strengthening as the head of the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital.

Dr Babagana Kundi Machina BIORTC Dementia Research Group

Dr Babagana Kundi Machina

Dr. Babagana Kundi Machina is a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry, Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu. Additionally, he holds the role of Executive Secretary for the Yobe State Primary Health Care Management Board. He is the lead investigator of the Dementia Group at Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu.

He began his medical journey by obtaining an MBBS from the University of Maiduguri in 2008. This was followed by a residency in psychiatry at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Maiduguri (FNPH) from 2011 to 2016. After successfully completing his training and securing the fellowship of the West African College of Physicians in the Faculty of Psychiatry, Dr. Machina returned to Yobe to establish the Department of Psychiatry at the Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu. In recognition of his contributions and expertise, he was appointed the Medical Director of the Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu in 2017 until 2019. Following this, he took on the role of Executive Secretary of the Yobe State Primary Health Care Management Board. Dr. Machina has shared his findings at various scientific conferences and has authored multiple publications.

Other members of the Group are: 

Yobe State Ministry of Health:

  1. Dr Muhammad Lawan Gana (Honourable Commissioner for Health for Yobe State)

Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Maiduguri:

  1. ⁠Dr Muhammad Abba Fugu, Consultant Psychiatrist
  2. Dr Umar Baba Musami, Consultant Psychiatrist
  3. Dr. Mahmood Mohammed Yusuf, Consultant Psychiatrist 
  4. Gimba Mohammed, Data Management Officer

Yobe State University Teaching Hospital:

  1. Dr Isa Hassan Muhammad, Consultant Radiologist
  2. ⁠Dr Muhammad Sale Musa, Medical Officer  
  3. ⁠⁠Dr Habu Abdul, Consultant Physician
  4. Larema Baba Zau, Medical Laboratory Scientist

Yobe State Specialist Hospital Damaturu:

  1. Dr Muhammad Aji, Medical Officer
  2. Dr Wakil Abba Goni, Medical Officer
  3. Mohammed Mala Dapso, Data Management Officer

Yobe State Specialist Hospital Potiskum:

  1. Dr Ayuba Zakari, Consultant Heamatologist
  2. Dr Ibrahim Idris, Medical Officer
  3. Dr Sulaiman Bila, Data Management Officer

University of Maiduguri:

  1. Prof. Isa Hussaini Marte, Professor of Pharmacology

Gombe State University:

  1. Dr Hamidu Suleiman Kwairanga, Department of Human Anatomy

External Collaborators:

  1. Prof. Chiadi Onyike, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, USA
  2. Prof. Thomas K Karikari, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, USA
  3. Prof. Celeste Karch, Professor of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, USA