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Intellect

Inspired BYU grad a force against global disease

Global health and a mother's inspiring example

As a young girl growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Moremi Hamblin saw her parents as prime examples of the difference an education can make in the quality of life.

Her mother left home at 18, supported herself through college and a graduate degree and became a high school principal to encourage other young women to seek education.

“She got an education at a time when people told her she couldn’t; she had no support,” Hamblin said of her mother. “The only way she could bring herself out of the situation she was in was to get an education. She didn’t want the same thing for her children.”

Hamblin credits her mother for inspiring her to seek her own degree from a good university and make the most of every opportunity there. Hamblin moved to the United States so she could pursue her studies at Brigham Young University.

And Hamblin has made the most of every opportunity.

When she first came to BYU and heard about the Honors Program, Hamblin knew she wanted to be a part of it despite the rigorous course load. Wanting some hands-on experience for her public health degree, she also sought out Dr. Keoni Kauwe, an internationally recognized researcher at BYU who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease genetics. Hamblin asked for a spot in Kauwe’s research lab. Kauwe agreed, helping chart a long-term course for Hamblin.

Graduating with an emphasis in epidemiology, Hamblin is focused on looking at the causes and determinants of global diseases. Hamblin’s Alzheimer’s research, under the mentorship of Kauwe, earned her the 2019 College of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Award. She also volunteers in the memory care unit at Provo Rehab.

“Moremi has been enthusiastic and assertive about conducting her research every step of the way,” said Kauwe. “Her work will be a meaningful contribution to our understanding of how genetic variants interact to influence risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, she’s also interested in studying other global diseases like HIV and AIDS, which are both prevalent in Nigeria.

“BYU’s ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve’ motto is one of my driving forces. One of my goals is to help people in Africa, people in Nigeria, get the best healthcare they can get. I want to be able to go back to Nigeria and share what I know with global epidemiology.”

Hamblin hopes to work at the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization after finishing a doctoral degree.

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