Dr. Sunday Akintoye Awarded Penn Global Research, Engagement Grant for Collaboration in Africa


Dr. Sunday Akintoye

Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine’s Dr. Sunday Akintoye, Associate Professor, Department of Oral Medicine, is among the 2022 cohort of Penn faculty recently awarded research support from the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program. His project, titled the “Penn/UniLag Collaboration on Racial Disparities in Ameloblastoma Recurrence,” will build upon ongoing research collaborations he has with the University of Lagos in Nigeria.

“Epidemiological studies show that ameloblastoma, an aggressively growing jaw tumor, is highly prevalent in African-Americans in the U.S and in the sub-Saharan population of Black Africans,” explains Dr. Akintoye. “However, it is unclear whether the racial differences in ameloblastoma growth and recurrence can be attributed to biological or environmental factors. We hope to better understand that through this study.”

Dr. Akintoye will leverage ongoing research partnerships with the University of Lagos to access the largest tumor bank of ameloblastoma samples from black racial populations to elucidate biological indicators of tumor recurrence. He will also provide training and research capacity building for junior faculty.

Dr. Akintoye’s has long-established ties with the University of Lagos. A native of Nigeria, he attended dental school there and was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria in 2015-2016, spending several months at Lagos teaching, mentoring, and working with junior faculty on developing research. He has continued to maintain research collaborations with the school since his Fulbright experience.

“It is rewarding to be able to build upon my previous research and collaborations at University of Lagos through this grant award,” says Dr. Akintoye.

Joining Dr. Akintoye as Co-Investigator on the Penn Global Research Engagement Award is Dr. Kathleen Boesze-Battaglia, Professor, Basic and Translational Sciences, Penn Dental Medicine.

Dr. Akintoye’s project is among 21 new faculty-led research and engagement projects by the Penn Global program at a total funding level of $1.2 million. The program prioritizes projects that bring together leading scholars and practitioners across the University community and beyond to develop new insight on significant global issues in key countries and regions around the world. Launching these projects this year is also integral to the University’s commitment to reengage a post-pandemic world.

Of the 21 projects, 11, including Dr. Akintoye’s project, will receive support from the new Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund (HAREF). The fund was created in 2021 as part of the Holman Africa Initiative following a $5 million gift from Wendy Holman, W’97 and Wayne Holman to expand financial aid for students and advance actionable research and partnership opportunities in Africa.

Selected projects will also engage India, China, Latin America, the Caribbean, and beyond, with several multi-regional projects.

Penn Global relaunched its competitive research and engagement grant program in Fall 2021, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn Global welcomed proposals from Penn faculty across all disciplines and fields of study. The grant program consists of the Global Engagement Fund, China and India Research and Engagement Funds, and the new Holman Africa Research and Engagement Fund. Penn Global hosted a symposium on April 27 at Perry World House to introduce the new projects supported by the grant program.