On Thursday, June 30th, 2016 Chukwuemeka Okafor, MPH, Ph.D, defended his dissertation titled, “Marijuana Use Among HIV-Seropositive and HIV-Seronegative Men: Long Term Trends, Predictors of Use, and Impact on Cognitive Function.”
Dr. Okafor earned his Bachelors in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos in Nigeria and his Masters in Health Behavior from the University of North Florida in 2012. He then came to the University of Florida to pursue his Ph.D in Epidemiology as a graduate fellow through the College of Public Health and Health Professions. Dr. Okafor has since focused on the cognitive and inflammatory impacts of substance use, including cannabis use, in individuals living with HIV.
Dr. Okafor has been a major contributor to SHARC since he joined in 2012. He has helped recruit participants in the Florida Cohort Study, presented several posters using SHARC data, and has been actively involved with the WHAT-IF? project.
During his time with SHARC, Dr. Okafor finds that his most significant accomplishments must be the collaborations he was able to do with faculty and students. “It was truly and amazing learning experience that was productive in the end,” he said. These collaborations culminated in the publication of two primary-authored papers. In addition to this, another important accomplishment for Dr. Okafor was obtaining an F31 research training grand from NIDA, and he acknowledged, “The many interactions with the faculty in SHARC proved very helpful in fine-tuning my research protocol/study design for the training grant.”
Currently, Dr. Okafor is working on publishing two of the papers from his dissertations. The first looks at long-term trends in the prevalence of marijuana use and the second looks at the effects of cumulative exposure to marijuana cognitive function among HIV-positive and HIV-negative men.
Regarding his future goals, Dr. Okafor plans to pursue an academic research career that will focus on biomedical HIV prevention approaches, particularly among high-risk groups that include young minority men who have sex with men, as well as among drug users. Dr. Okafor has accepted a post-doctoral position at the University of California, Los Angeles, and plans to continue research there.