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    Meet the Keynote Speaker: Igbo Studies Association 17th Annual International Conference, Dominican University, River Forest, Chicago, May 9-11, 2019

    Conference Theme: Akụ ruo ụlọ, O kwuo onye kpatara ya! (Wealth brought home speaks well of its bringer).

    Title of Keynote: Towards a Return of Igbo Intellect and Wealth to Igboland, or Environmental Development of Igboland through Pharmaceutical Research (Pharmacology): Identifying, Extracting, Purifying and Testing Local Medicinal plants for the Treatment and Cure of Human Diseases.

    Keynote Speaker: Emmanuel “Emma” Onua, Research Scientist, College Professor and Community Leader

    Keynote Synopsis:

    Throughout the course of history, civilizations have always developed a keen sense of “self” as they strive to overcome limitations, be they individual or environmental. Technological advancements have been achieved when individuals and institutions identified an obstacle, set a goal of overcoming such an obstacle, and worked toward finding a solution to the obstacle. Ndi-Igbo, a very enterprising people of South-Eastern Nigeria, epitomize the human ability to overcome obstacles and to thrive under immense challenges.

    While it may be tempting to assume that because of ubiquitous Igbo businesses worldwide, that the biggest export of the Igbo race is entrepreneurship, it is indeed an incorrect assumption. Unquestionably, the biggest and most profound Igbo asset that resides outside of Igboland is INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL.

    A 13-year survey conducted by Rice University shows that Nigerians are the most highly educated immigrant community in the United States. Many other studies, including the database of the US Census Bureau, support this finding. Nigerians are professionally engaged in the professional cadres – Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Research, Engineering, Teaching etc. at the highest levels in the US. Naturally, one can surmise that Ndi-Igbo, making up roughly one-third of the Nigerian population, would be proportionately represented in these census data.

    While the US and other host countries gain from the intellectual achievements of these immigrants, what does their country of origin (Nigeria) gain, besides the Western Union remittances to relatives and friends? Not much. In this discussion, we shall:

    1. Explore how Igbo intellectuals and professionals in the Diaspora can effectively return some of their acquired skills and technologies to Igboland.
    2. Proffer suggestions to help make the transition back to the homeland easier.
    3. Emphasize how acquired technological skills can translate into meaningful and long-term development pathways for Igboland.
    4. Finally, explore the specific area of Pharmaceutical Research and how it can be applied to our local environment, especially in Pharmacology where locally available medicinal plants can be identified, extracted, purified, characterized, tested and approved for the treatment and/or cure of human diseases. For example, dogonyaro (used for the treatment of malaria) and aku-ilu (bitter cola), used for different medicinal purposes, will be explored in depth.

    Education & Teaching:

    Mazi Emmanuel “Emma” Onua received his undergraduate (Animal Sciences) and graduate degrees (Biochemistry, emphasis on Enzymology) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

    Sandwiched between his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Emma Onua served in the mandatory 1-year National Youth Service Corps, at The Federal College of Education, Okene (Kwara State), before returning to The University of Nigeria for graduate studies. Upon completing his graduate work, Mazi Onua was employed as a Lecturer at The College of Education, Nsugbe, an affiliate college of The University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he taught Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, while traveling within and outside of Nigeria on academic trips and sponsored programs. During his two-year tenure as Lecturer, Mazi Onua was invited on sponsored academic Research programs, primarily through the United States Information Services [U.S.I.S Office of International Visitors] of the US Department of State. His academic tour of duty encompassed Curriculum Development and Evaluation programs at The City University of New York (CUNY), The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH), Albuquerque Technical-Vocational Institute (Albuquerque, NM), Jackson State University (Jackson, MS), and The State Department (Washington DC) etc., where he was involved in research and policy formulation programs for the advancement of Education, with particular attention to Vocational and Technical Education in colleges across the Western Hemisphere.

    • Instructor (Human Anatomy and Physiology), Berkeley College, Woodbridge, NJ,
    • Adjunct Professor of Human Anatomy & Physiology, Passaic County Community College, Paterson, New Jersey.

    Scientific Career:

    In early 1990s, Mazi Onua decided to return to his roots in pure and applied scientific research. He accepted a position in pharmaceutical research as a Drug Discovery and Development Scientist, and has since held different scientific research roles, primarily as Research Scientist. Mazi Onua is an expert in bioanalytical sciences involving simple and/or complex biological matrices for the quantification of drugs and drug metabolites. His pharmaceutical research interests include the characterization of new molecular entities (potential new drugs) using in vitro and in vivo ADME activities, such as Metabolic Stability and Profiling with microsomes and hepatocytes, Cytochrome P-450 (CYP) Inhibition potential of NMEs, CYP Phenotyping, CYP Induction (hepatocytes), Tissue Distribution and Mass Balance using [14C] and [3H], determining the pharmacokinetics and toxicokinetics of NMEs, and application of Allometric Scaling to model Safe Doses in Man using preclinical PK parameters.

    Mazi Onua is a highly qualified and experienced manager of Drug Discovery and Development activities, including study budgeting, CRO interface, Sponsor visits, design and conduct of PK, TK and Safety Pharmacology studies; Hit-to-Lead screening (NCE candidate selection) and IND-enabling studies. ADME representative in Drug Discovery-to-Development Project Teams; Authored ADME portion of Investigator Brochure; Supervisory scientist responsible for in vitro and in vivo ADME activities: Metabolic Stability and Profiling with liver microsomes, CYP Inhibition, CYP Phenotyping, CYP Induction (using hepatocytes) and Protein Binding, Tissue Distribution and Mass Balance using [14C] and [3H]; Established and utilized a viable ex-vivo (Isolated Perfused Rat Liver) model for determination of hepatic parameters such as ER, Clint, Pro-drug conversion, Biliary Excretion for improved candidate selection; Extensive Bioanalytical background including Method Development/Validation and analysis of preclinical/clinical samples under GLP conditions; Data acquisition and analyses with various LIMS; Pharmacokinetic data analysis (WinNonlin, ToxAUC or Watson).

    Scientific Career Path:

    • Senior Research Scientist (Pharmacokinetics & Drug Metabolism) at Eli Lilly, Indianapolis;
    • Principal Research Investigator (DMPK) at Seventh Wave Laboratories, Chesterfield, MO;
    • Study Director (Toxicology Lab, College of Medicine), University of Illinois at Chicago;
    • Study Director (in vitro Drug Metabolism) at Invitrogen/CellzDirect, Austin, TX;
    • Snr Research Scientist (in vitro Pharmacology & ADME), deCODE Genetics, Woodridge, IL;
    • Research Scientist (Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism), Pharmacia/Pfizer, Skokie, IL;
    • Assoc Research Scientist (ADME/PK) at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ;
    • Snr Research Assoc (Metabolism & Analytical Chemistry) at Pharmaco-LSR, Millstone, NJ.

    Selected Scientific Publications:

    • Kasim K Kabirov, Izet M Kapetanovic, Doris M Benbrook, Nancy Dinger, Irina Mankovskaya, Alexander Zakharov, Carol Detrisac, Marcia Pereira, Tomás Martín-Jiménez, Emmanuel Onua, Aryamitra Banerjee, Richard B van Breemen, Dejan Nikolić, Lian Chen, Alexander V Lyubimov: Oral toxicity and pharmacokinetic studies of SHetA2, a new chemopreventive agent, in rats and dogs. Drug and Chemical Toxicology (e-print 09/2012).
    • Livia A. Enache, Jun Zhang, David W. Sullins, Isaac Kennedy, Emmanuel Onua, David E. Zembower, Frank W. Muellner, Jasbir Singh and Alex S. Kiselyov: Synthesis and structural assignment of two major metabolites of the LTA4H inhibitor DG-051 Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Volume 19, Issue 22, 15 November 2009, pp 6275-6279.
    • Nian Zhou, Wayne Zeller, Jun Zhang, Emmanuel Onua, Alex S. Kiselyov, Jose Ramirez, Guðrún Palsdottir, Guðrún Halldorsdottir, Þorkell Andrésson, Mark E. Gurney and Jasbir Singh: 3-Acrylamide-4-aryloxyindoles: Synthesis, biological evaluation and metabolic stability of potent and selective EP3 receptor antagonists Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Volume 19, Issue 5, 1 March 2009, pp 1528-1531.
    • Nian Zhou, Wayne Zeller, Michael Krohn, Herb Anderson, Jun Zhang, Emmanuel Onua, Alex S. Kiselyov, Jose Ramirez, Guðrún Halldorsdottir, Þorkell Andrésson, Mark E. Gurney and Jasbir Singh: 3,4-Disubstituted indole acylsulfonamides: A novel series of potent and selective human EP3 receptor antagonists Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Volume 19, Issue 1, 1 January 2009, pp 123-126.
    • Antagonists of the EP3 Receptor for Prostaglandin E2 Are Novel Antiplatelet Agents That Do Not Prolong Bleeding. Vincent Sandanayaka, Bjorn Mamat, Rama K. Mishra, Jennifer Winger, Michael Krohn, Li-Ming Zhou, Monica Keyvan, Livia Enache, David Sullins, Emmanuel Onua, Jun Zhang, Gudrun Halldorsdottir, Heida Sigthorsdottir, Audur Thorlaksdottir, Gudmundur Sigthorsson, Margret Thorsteinnsdottir, Douglas R. Davies, Lance J. Stewart, David E. Zembower, Thorkell Andresson, Alex S. Kiselyov, Jasbir Singh and Mark E. Gurney: Discovery of 4-[(2S)-2-{[4-(4-Chlorophenoxy)phenoxy]methyl}-1-pyrrolidinyl]butanoic Acid (DG-051) as a Novel Leukotriene A4 Hydrolase Inhibitor of Leukotriene B4 Biosynthesis J. Med. Chem., : December 1, 2009.
    • Jasbir Singh, Wayne Zeller, Nian Zhou, Georgeta Hategan, Rama K. Mishra, Alex Polozov, Peng Yu, Emmanuel Onua, Jun Zhang, Jose L. Ramirez, Gudmundur Sigthorsson, Margret Thorsteinnsdottir, Alex. S. Kiselyov, David E. Zembower, Thorkell Andresson and Mark E. Gurney: Structure−Activity Relationship Studies Leading to the Identification of (2E)-3-[l-[(2,4-Dichlorophenyl)methyl]-5-fluoro-3-methyl-lH-indol-7-yl]-N-[(4,5-dichloro-2-thienyl)sulfonyl]-2-propenamide (DG-041), a Potent and Selective Prostanoid EP3 Receptor Antagonist, as a Novel Antiplatelet Agent That Does Not Prolong Bleeding. J. Med. Chem.: 10.1021/jm9005912: December 3, 2009.
    • Liu Y, Weber S. J., Onua E. T. “Hepatic clearance and Drug Metabolism using Isolated Perfused Rat Liver. Curr. Protocols Pharmacol.” (2004) 7.9.1-7.9.10. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    • Shen J., Mitchell W. E., Onua E., Findlay J. “Estimation of the Human Efficacious Dose of a MMP Inhibitior SC-X from Preclinical Data using Computer Simulation Coupled with Allometric Scaling.” ISSX Proceedings 8-23-2004.
    • Shen J, Onua E., Mitchell W. E., Galluppi G. R., Manitpisitkul P. Pharmacokinetic Evaluation of SC-X in Preclinical species. Drug Metab. Rev. 2003 (Vol. 35, Issue S2, Abstr. 441).
    • Onua E. C., Okeke G. C. “Replacement value of processed cassava peel for maize silage in cattle diet.” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment 1, 38-43 (1999).
    • Obioha F. C., Okeke G. C., Onua E. T. C., Oboegbunam S. I. ‘The effect of varying protein and energy levels on the utilization of cassava peels by mice.” Nutr. Rep. Int 28:531-545 (1983).

    Community Life:

    As an undergraduate student at The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he was a major contributor to the success of the Student Union Cultural Week activities. For example, due to its remoteness from the center of campus--it was the dorm closest to the University Farm complex--Isa Kaita Hall, his residence hall, was re-baptized “The Village,” and it assumed a place of honor as a Cultural Mecca of sorts on campus. Indeed, Mazi Onua and his colleagues in the late 1970s instituted a Traditional Ruling Cabinet at Isa Kaita Hall, with The Kaita of Isa Kaita as the “Traditional Ruler and Chief” of the hall. Onua was crowned The Alacrity (The Village Law‑Keeper), due to his diligent attention to Rules and Regulations, to ensure adherence to them. The University governance officially recognized “The Village of Isa Kaita,” and accorded its members a pride of place in their dealings with students.

    Mazi Onua is also intimately involved in Igbo community activities wherever he lives. As a child, he particularly enjoyed spending time in the village during school holidays, so that he could interact with village children and elders on a daily basis. Mazi Onua imbibed cultural norms, values and customs directly from his interactions with the first-hand practitioners in this way. As an adult, Onua acquired an extensive range of familiarity with Igbo customs, by seeking to learn as much as possible from people of diverse Igbo backgrounds. Through formal and informal channels, Onua has deep knowledge of cultural practices in diverse areas of Igboland, including the Nsukka to Igala cross-cultural axis, the Nkanu (Enugu State) to Orumba (Anambra State) filial connections, the Omambala-Anambra-Ikpele mmili commonality that binds the upstream Niger River communities (Anam, Nzam Nsugbe, Aguleri/Umuleri) to their downstream brethren of Akili, Odekpe etc.).

    Mazi Onua is a member of the Nze-na-Ozo Society of Abagana (Anambra State, Nigeria), and he took the title Ozo Ezeude IV n’Abagana ebo teghete.

    Community Activities and Assignments:

    President, Abagana Welfare Union (New York & New Jersey); Secretary, Abagana Welfare Union in the Americas; President (Inaugural), Anambra State Association, Chicago; President (Inaugural), Igbo Associations of Chicago and Environs; Secretary, Christ the King College (CKC) Old Boys Association in The Americas; President, CKC Old Boys Association in The Americas.


    Mazi Onua has received the following Prizes, Recognitions and Service Awards in his academic and scientific careers, as well as for his services to his community and society:

    • Grantee of the International Visitor Program (United States Information Agency, Washington, DC);
    • Distinguished Guest Research Guest, The National center for Research in Vocational Education (Ohio State University);
    • Certificate of Recognition of International Service in Promoting Cooperation, Understanding and Friendship among the Peoples of Africa and the Americas (Operation Crossroads Africa, a program of the United States Department of State, Washington, DC);
    • Certification of Meritorious Service from International Vocational Education and Training Association (IVETA – a Regional Association of American and Caribbean Educators);
    • The Executive Director’s On-The-Spot Award for exemplary dedication to Pharmaceutical Research (Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Lawrenceville, NJ);
    • Community Service Award (Umunna Association of Chicagoland) etc.

    Board Memberships:

    Mazi Onua currently serves on the Board of Directors of Not-for-Profit organizations, including:

    • Daughters of Divine Love Development Ministry;
    • Anambra Women United of Chicago;
    • Minority Outreach and Recruitment Committee of ELANCO (Eli-Lilly and Co).

    Passions and Hobbies:

    Mazi Onua’s passions and hobbies are varied. He particularly enjoys providing entertainment at social events in the role of Disc Jockey (DJ) and Master of Ceremony (MC). Mazi Onua writes a regular weekly column titled “MUSINGS” on Matador, Ogene and other community forums that serve Chicago area residents of Igbo origin.

    Family Life:

    Mazi Onua is married to Mazis Ifey Onua, his wife of almost 25 years, and together they have one son and two daughters.


    Your ISA membership must be renewed annually in order to remain active.

    • Regular Member (Renewal) - $50
    • Student Member (Renewal) - $30
    • Regular Member (New) - $75
    • Student Member (New) - $55
    • Life Member - $1000


    • Regular Member - $100
    • Regular Africa – $70
    • Student Member - $50
    • Life Member - $100
    • Non-Member - $120


    The Director,
    Igbo Studies Association Secretariat & Center for Igbo Studies
    Fine Arts Building, Room # 321
    Dominican University
    7900 W. Division Street
    River Forest, IL 60305 USA
    Telephone: (708) 488-5302