Samuel Okafor – Student Profile

Published on 20 December 2023

Inspired by his family history and with a dream to study Reproductive Medicine, Samuel overcame many odds to study in Dundee.

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For Samuel Okafor, the journey from Nigeria to Dundee was not an easy one. Luckily, he was supported by a member of his local church community and other friends, who all believed in Samuel’s goal to join the postgraduate MSc Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception (HCEAC) course at the University of Dundee. 

Before Samuel was conceived, his parents had struggled for three years with infertility – a common and often stigmatized condition in Nigerian society. With this as his inspiration, the field of clinical embryology became a personal interest to Samuel.

“In 2015, a few months after my first degree, I was posted to a private hospital (Nisa Premier Hospital) in the capital of Nigeria for the Nigerian Compulsory Youth Service for Graduates. I had earlier planned to go back to study medicine after the 1-year compulsory service, however, I met a higher purpose when I learnt the hospital is the first government approved fertility hospital for successful IVF.

“I had always believed in the past that IVF services only succeeded in more developed countries. So, I took it personal to meet the owner of the hospital who happened to be the fertility specialist that carried out the IVF procedures. His testimonies of coming to the UK to learn these skills left an indelible mark in my heart when I also pondered how my parents stayed childless for 3 years before giving birth to me. Hence, I am named Samuel, with the well-known biblical reasons of my parents practically looking for a child before I was conceived. I went home that day with unspeakable joy, and for the first time I looked at myself in the mirror and called myself a Clinical Embryologist, it felt so good and fulfilling.”

The Chairman of the African Federation of Fertility Societies (AFFS), who had shown Samuel around the IVF lab, had employed Samuel in the general laboratory where they screen blood, sputum, faecal and urine samples. However, Samuel’s heart still lay in Clinical Embryology.

“I searched for a school but couldn't find any Nigerian University offering the postgraduate clinical research training I wanted. I searched in the UK schools and was heavily shocked at the fees. I wasn't sure how to get the money. So, I created a graphical design of myself carrying a test tube with babies crawling out of it, then I used it as my laptop wallpaper. This was the only practical way I resolved in my heart to be looking at my dream career every day until I was able to fulfil the dream.

“Years went by, seasons passed and I even grew stronger in the laboratory science profession with sound leadership experience in hospital practice and public health field experience (as the Laboratory Data Manager, Covid-19 Test Coordinator, Team Leader in Covid-19 Rapid response). But my love for Clinical Embryology remained, ever increasing even after seven years.”

In 2022 Samuel decided not to wait any more. He applied for the MSc course and much to his dismay, was still short of the full fees required. In trying times, he turned to his strong faith and the church community he belonged to. One day, a member of the church asked if he was going to join the programme and follow through on his dreams. When he shared that he had not been successful in paying his deposit, he was majorly assisted with a loan from that church member, as well as other supportive friends.

“I got admission to the University of Dundee. I made Dundee my first choice because amidst many schools, I observed Dundee is the only school among my options with the word ‘Human’ before Clinical Embryology. Then I sold everything I have, collected a loan, and left Nigeria. I entered Dundee very passionate, full of excitement, very proud to have pursued the dream.

“Then I started my research project, work which took five months before getting my first amazing result. Yeah! Another milestone. I had successfully developed a rapid and economic PCR multiplex test model for screening 1 basepair indel mutations of two sperm specific genes (MROH2B & DEFb128).

“I was accepted and invited to present the work at the Scottish Human Reproduction and Embryology Group (SHREG 2023) conference and just after a month, I got another approval and invite to present the work at the European Testis Workshop (ETW 2023) in Switzerland. Later, I was also invited to present my research work at the Tayside Global Citizenship Event 2023, where I discussed extensively my work on developing a PCR multiplex test model for another gene called Human DEFb128.

“In August 2023, it was the last official activity in school where I presented my work in the form of a poster presentation with others. Surprisingly after that, the department of MSc Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception in the School of Medicine, University of Dundee, honoured me with a ‘Commitment to the Course Award 2023’. My heart was filled with unspeakable joy. Then I realised that in as much as "experience is what we get when we don't get what we want, fulfilment has the mastery of masking the pain of years spent in identifying ourselves.

“The news of my receiving the award, amidst other achievements, seemed to reach Nigeria before I got home same day. So, I was invited to join a popular TV Health program called Health Digest, as hosted by African Independent Television (AIT) on the 1st September 2023. I explained the importance of my research and its future. Then I further emphasised on the need for Nigeria to invest and possibly allocate more budget to medical research. 

“Who would have told me that I would be invited to suggest for the professional growth of my country so early even as a student. Then I realised that the standard study setting of my department created a yearning in me, the strong quest to know more and be able to contribute to this profession with dynamic evolution. Hence, it's research all the way, even as I also wish to be active part of the clinical embryology lab. So, I am very open for the business of Clinical Embryologist and research.

“Finally, it's been an amazing experience birthed and fuelled from my birth history. Hence, I have no reservations at all in being among the team of Clinical Embryologist helping couples who seek to have their own baby to go home with a healthy live birth, and still be relevant in research and addition of values to the body of science at large.”


Find out more about our MSc Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception course: