College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Antidiabetic and Toxicological Properties of Medicinal Plants Focus of Biochemist’s PhD

Dr Ochuko Erukainure has earned a PhD in Biochemistry for research conducted on the antidiabetic and toxicological properties of some South African medicinal plants used in the treatment of diabetes and the complications involved.

It is predicted that his research will contribute significantly to the development of novel antidiabetic drugs.

‘Ochuko has conducted several research projects on the efficacy and toxicity of common medicinal plants used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, currently one of the leading global public health problems,’ said his supervisor, Professor Shahidul Islam of UKZN’s School of Life Sciences. ‘His thesis was judged one of the most productive PhDs by the examiners as it resulted in 11 publications in Q1 and Q2 rated international peer-reviewed journals. He also presented some of his research findings at both local and international conferences.’

Apart from publications from his PhD thesis, Erukainure has published more than 100 articles in international peer-reviewed journals over the past 10 years.

‘These attributes demonstrate Ochuko’s contribution to science in South Africa and globally,’ said Islam. ‘During his academic study and research, he acquired a great deal of knowledge and equipped himself with very useful skills and techniques that have made him worthy of being an expert in his field of research.’

‘Now that I am done with my PhD, I intend having a few postgraduate experiences before building on my research career,’ said Erukainure. ‘I also intend to mentor young and aspiring scientists.’

A Nigerian national, Erukainure was attracted to study at UKZN because of its research reputation and particularly the work done by his supervisor Professor Islam in the field of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Erukainure expressed appreciation for the assistance, patience and care he received from his ‘darling wife, Isoken, and beautiful daughter, Zoe’, during his studies. He thanked Islam for his ‘doggedness and encouragement’ whilst supervising him, and also Professor G N Elemo of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, Nigeria; Professor M Z Zaruwa of the Department of Biochemistry, Adamawa State University, Mubi, Nigeria; and Dr B Doonan of the New York Medical College and New York Academy of Science (NYAS) in the United States.

He also thanked his parents, Elder and Mrs VO Erukainure, for their prayers and support.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied and Abhi Indrarajan