Malawi College of Medicine lecturer wins African Union young scientist award

The African Union (AU) has awarded young Malawian scientist, Associate Professor Fanuel Lampiao, with the 2012 AU-TWAS Young Scientist’ prize in the Life and Earth Sciences category.

For winning the prize, the young scientist walked away with a whopping US$ 5000 cash prize.

According to sourced information, the award is designed to recognize scientific excellence of young African researchers who are nationals of the AU member states.

The African Union entered into a partnership with TWAS, an Italian-based international organization and national ministries of science and technology, national science academies, scientific research councils and high-level research organizations in Africa to institute the AU-TWAS Young Scientist National annual awards.

Fanuel Lampiao

Fanuel Lampiao

Assoc Prof Fanuel Lampiao’s award was announced by the Malawi National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST) Board Chairperson Professor Sosten Chiotha.

He was presented the award for his research on the use of traditional herb Acacia nilotica as a male contraceptive which was found to reduce sperm motility but the effect is irreversible.

Lampiao is an Associate Professor in Physiology at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (CoM) where he has worked since 2002 (minus 2004-2009 when he was in South Africa pursuing further studies).

In an interview with Nyasa Times, the Assoc Prof said the award was an encouragement not only to him but to many other young and upcoming Malawian researchers.

Entrants are supposed to submit their published research work during the past five years and state the significance of their work to the country as well as the scientific word.

“For me my research interest is in reproductive medicine with a special focus on the understanding of the human spermatozoa function. Over the past few years I have generated data that have helped to better understand factors and conditions that necessitate normal functioning of human spermatozoa if fertilization has to take place.

“This research has led to better diagnosis methods of male infertility in couples struggling to have children. It has led men to start having a keen interest in their reproductive health, as well as understand that infertility can originate from either the male or female partner in a relationship,” he explained.

Assoc Prof Lampiao further observed that his research had enlightened couples who had been failing to have children naturally that there is treatment for childlessness through assisted reproductive technologies.

He said his better understanding of human spermatozoa physiology has also led to his attempt to develop an oral herbal male contraceptive.

“Men have very few contraceptive choices which make them not to be fully involved in family planning issues. This research will greatly address issues of population growth and its related detrimental effects on the environment.

“It will also encourage men especially in the rural areas to participate in family planning practices since rural people are very familiar with traditional medicine,” said Ass Prof Lampiao, who turned 35 on February 18 this year.

Ass Prof Lampiao has won several awards before such as best postgraduate research student (2006) in Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch in RSA.

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