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Okeoma receives Iowa Women of Innovation Award

Chioma Okeoma
Date: Monday, November 21, 2016

​Chioma Okeoma, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has received the Research Innovation and Leadership Award from the Technology Association of Iowa (TAI).

Okeoma was one of eight women leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to be honored as winners of the Ninth Annual Des Moines Area Community College Iowa Women of Innovation Awards. Two students were also named Women of Innovation and presented with scholarships of $2,500 each. One company was also honored.

Okeoma studies cellular tactics used by our bodies (and those of other mammals) to fight off viruses. Her work has led to discoveries that could improve therapies for HIV and breast cancer. Okeoma focuses on host restriction factors (HRFs), proteins that block viral infection and transmission. Her research suggests that an HRF called apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme (APOBEC3), which is a powerful inhibitor of retroviruses, might play a role in preventing sexual transmission of HIV. Her work on a second HRF called bone marrow stromal cell antigen 2 (BST-2), shows that these molecules are also involved in breast cancer development and metastasis. Okeoma’s team has identified a BST-2-based peptide that prevents breast tumor growth. The discovery has been patented by the University of Iowa Research Foundation.

Story Source: UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room W319 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009