Olayinka Adebayo

This Is What a Hero Looks Like

Olayinka Adebayo, a fourth-year doctoral student in the Biomedical Sciences program at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) hails from an eighteen-person household in Nigeria. Her early interests and passion for medicine and health were cultivated from her mother’s profession as a nurse and her father’s experience as an engineer. She was trained as an internist in Nigeria but was inspired to begin her journey in the United States at MSM as a physician-scientist when cancer impacted the life of her late father.

Her story is featured in This Is What a Hero Looks Like, a biographical book authored by Bill Haney that highlights Nobel Prize Winner James “Jim” Allison and other scientists' success stories.

Dr. Adebayo’s research seeks to fill the gap in understanding the molecular mechanisms behind early multiple myeloma (MM) progression in the newly diagnosed patients on standard treatment for MM, such as lenalidomide, bortezomib, and dexamethasone (RVD).

MM is a cancer of the plasma cell, a white blood cell that secretes antibodies which help to prevents infections and is almost twice as common in African Americans than European Americans. There is a relatively high percentage of patients that progress after early treatment with RVD, which is why genetic studies are needed to better understand why these differences occur. Therefore, Olayinka is working to identify clinically relevant clusters of co-expressed genes or related biomarkers for MM progression, while on RVD, to find new drug targets for this potentially deadly disease.

Olayinka’s PhD dissertation research has identified and characterized a potential new drug target(s) to combat MM in patients that have failed RVD treatment - bradykinin receptor B1 (BDKRB1) and associated gene networks.

Dr. Adebayo is mentored by James Lillard, Ph.D., MBA, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Microbiology, Biochemistry & Immunology, whom she credits for “never taking ‘no’ for an answer,” encouraging her to further her curiosity in scientific discoveries that will make an impact on the lives of individuals who have been impacted by cancer such as her late father.

Dr. Adebayo is excited about the next steps of her academic journey and appreciates her husband, children, and MSM community for supporting her.