MICHAEL Umale Adikwu, a professor of pharmacy, has won this year's prestigious Nigerian Academy of Science's award for outstanding scholar in science. He is to collect the sum of $20,000 (N2.6 million) endowed by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited.
His work focuses on establishing the beneficial effects of snail mucin (a waste product usually washed away when snails are being prepared for cooking) for the topical treatment of wounds and burns.
Adikwu, from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) will be honoured at the NLNG-sponsored grand award night on October 7, at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
To win the prize, he beat nine other contestants, who submitted works in wide ranging fields such as physics, veterinary clinical virology, quantity surveying, mathematics and agriculture.
Adikwu, who was overall best student of Federal Government College, Jos, in 1980, has been an outstanding scholar with over 130 research articles in national and international journals.
He had won grants from reputable international agencies including the Royal Society of Chemistry of Great Britain; Third World Academy of Science; International Foundation of Science, Sweden; and Raw Materials Research and Development Council of Nigeria.
His work titled, 'Wound Healing Devices (Formulations) Containing Snail Mucin', which fetched him the award, was described as a significant contribution to drug formulation and drug delivery systems that would promote the potentials of local materials in the formulation of drugs.
Specifically, the work, based on snail mucin established that snail biopolymer mucin can be made into various pharmaceutical formulations such as ointments, creams, gels and films, for healing of wounds as well as a facilitatory agent for absorption of pharmaceutical preparations.
Tests on his products on rats and rabbits showed no serious allergy or toxic effects.
Prof. David Okali, president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, praised the judges for maintaining the high standards of the prize, saying Adikwu's work has relevance for the nation's overall health care development.
He said the Academy would continue to work in partnership with the Nigeria LNG Limited that entrusted it to oversee the Prize.
"We commend NLNG's support for science and literature and urge other corporate organisations to show similar commitments to encourage scientists," he said.
Providing information on the procedures adopted to award the Prize, Okali said the Science Academy set up a committee that worked out the modalities for the award and selected, on the basis of merit, five judges, who are all distinguished professors and laureates.
The judges observed the due process and unanimously decided that Adikwu be awarded the Prize for 2006,
"The science committee," he maintained, " is in agreement with the judges and the very high standards the winner must meet (70 per cent cut-off mark) set for the prestigious award."
Dr. Chris Haynes, managing director, Nigeria LNG Limited, commended the Academy, especially the panel of judges for their decision, stating that he was sure the judges' decision would spur scientists and the government to actively promote science and research because of their numerous advantages to the country.
Inaugurated in February 2004, The Nigeria Prize for Science and The Nigeria Prize for Literature, instituted by Nigeria LNG Limited, have cash values of $20,000 (N2.6 million) each.