Bridging Partnerships: US to Africa

Greetings! I am a first-year doctoral student at Howard University, Department of Nutritional Sciences, studying to become a biomedical nutrition scientist upon obtaining a PhD in the field of nutrigenomics—a unique field in science that experimentally examines the interaction of human nutrition and genetics for the purpose of preventing disease and treating chronic health conditions.  My dissertation will ultimately examine the effect of nutritional imbalance on biomarkers of genetic risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Africans and African-Americans, who are disproportionately affected by the disease.  

This year, I am seeking travel to the University of Botswana, in Gaborone, Botswana, to attend the 11th International Conference of the Consortium for International Management, Policy, and Development (CIMPAD), June 25-29, 2018, to present a paper at the University of Botswana that focuses on my area of research in nutritional science. My travel to Botswana will also provide me with experiential learning through serving others and building collaborative partnerships in public health via networking which will inform my doctoral studies.

Supporting my GoFundMe campaign will provide funding to cover registration costs as detailed on the conference website, here: and an air ticket to Botswana.

My objectives in attending the conference are to:
Advance research opportunities to promote nutrition interventions 
• Participate in civic and community engagement by serving others
Advance education and knowledge development in health promotion
• Help marginalized communities gain access to critical health services
Engage with practitioners and academicians for information sharing
• Expand my experiential learning in leadership development and
• Promote the CIMPAD mantra of excellence in service to others

Botswana is only one of many beautiful countries in Africa yet it is plagued with persistent malnutrition, due mostly in part to poverty and an incredibly unreliable health system.  Malnutrition influences metabolic parameters and morbidities such as diabetes. Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age according to the World Health Organization and due to constrained resources, Botswana is battling how to tackle this plague.  Botswana is among African countries that are highly affected by diabetes and constrained resources only add to the diabetes plague.  Six years ago, World Diabetes Day took place in Gaborone, Botswana; during this event, the keynote speaker proclaimed there were 96,000 people living with diabetes in Botswana in the year 2012, giving the country the national prevalence of 8.25 per cent, against 4.3 per cent in the rest of Africa. 

The nutritional endemic in Botswana is disheartening. It is my hope that my doctoral research will identify opportunities for nutritional interventions to combat or delay diabetes and improve health outcomes.

Attending the CIMPAD conference would fulfill my dreams towards  advancing opportunities for underserved and health disparate populations and helping them benefit from my research. Here is my acceptance letter to attend the conference: 

Links to helpful resources:
Botswana diabetes nutrition facts:

Diabetes article I co-authored in 2015 with the Journal of Mason Graduate Research:

Botswana nutrition country profile: file:///Users/onyenehokn/Downloads/130100.pdf

Article published February 2018 addressing the need to tackle Botswana's malnutrition plague:


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Karyn Onyeneho 
Silver Spring, MD
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