PROFILE: Scientist Dr Pasano Bojang, Jr
In our December edition, Gunjur News Online profiles one of Gunjur’s youngest Doctors and Scientist, Dr Pasano Bojang, Jr.
Photo: Scientist Dr Pasano Bojang, Jr - One of the youngest Scientists from Gunjur
His higher academic odyssey commenced upon completion of High school in 1996 before proceeding to Gambia High School to do his A’levels, graduating in 1998. He was lined up for gainful employment and training with Medical Research Council from 1998 to 1999, but in a good turn of fortune he travelled to the United States to pursue higher education at Kentucky State University from 2000 to 2004 where he graduated with B.sc, Summa cum laude, in Chemistry and Computer Science, with Minor in Mathematics and Liberal Art Studies (Whitney Young Honors College). Speaking to Gunjur News Online, Dr Bojang explained what inspired him to venture into science and medicine from a very tender age: observing young children and women suffer from the devastation of malaria in his community of Gunjur several decades ago. Adding perspective to what influenced his drive to study science and medicine, Dr Bojang recalls: “Since childhood, I was fascinated by nature, its beautiful creations and what can go wrong to distort or disrupt the normal functioning of these creations. This fascination has led me to pursue a career in science. As a trained molecular biologist and biochemist, I am interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of disease etiology, and progression (e.g. lung cancer) with the goal of translating these molecular signatures into precision-based-treatment approaches.” Born and raised in the sprawling coastal settlement of Gunjur, in The Gambia, Dr Pasano Bojang, Jr. alias Parringo defied all odds to ascend to the pinnacle of academic excellence both in his native Gambia and the United States. Contrary to general perception that he may have had it easy to get to where he is today, Dr Bojang opened up about his trials and tribulations during a lengthy conversation with this medium, having arrived in the United States on a one year student visa back in 1999 with no assured source of funding for his higher education ambitions. Through focus, determination, persistence, and support from family both in Kentucky and Gambia, he was able to exceed expectations by winning grants and awards to continue his journey into the height of academic excellence. Dr Pasano Bojang's early years education from the impoverished grade one classrooms of Gunjur Lower Basic School in early 1980s put him on a trajectory toward academic excellence and a distinguished career in Science. "He was a fierce competitor academically, and hates being beaten in class, as such was one of the top students in Mr Mahoney's class," recalls Lamin Jammeh, one of his classmates at grade one in Gunjur Primary School. Commenting on the academic success of Dr Bojang, Pa Mambuna Bojang who is a cousin offered these: “Pa Sano knew precisely what he wanted when he arrived in Lexington, KY via Atlanta, GA on November 1, 1999. Aware of his strong academic background from the Gambia and his aspiration for higher education, I had no doubt that Pa Sano could survive the rigorous academic challenges of any college campus. With that in mind, we got him admitted to two small private Universities around here but could not meet the high tuition cost. Kentucky State University then became our next option and Pa was admitted right away after we submitted his academic credentials”. On Dr Bojang’s early days in Kentucky having newly arrived from The Gambia in search of knowledge, Pa Mambuna Bojang continued: “On a hot summer afternoon of August 2000, we loaded poor Pa Sano’s few belongings into my Nissan Altima and drove him to Kentucky State University where he checked into the dorms to begin his quest for higher education. From the corridors of KY State University to the Biology and Chemistry labs of the University of Louisville, Dr. Pa Sano needed very little advice or guidance to obtain his desired "terminal degree" in Biochemistry. I am humbly proud of his academic accomplishments,and I pray that Allah (swt) guides him to use it for the benefit of humanity in general - Aameen,” a proud Pa Mambuna Bojang concluded. On what is his proudest moment having gone through the rigours of attaining such laudable achievements, he simply answered: “Obtaining my doctorate”
When Gunjur Online asked him about what advice he has for young people aspiring to become Doctors, Engineers or Scientists, in order words, wanting to follow in his footsteps, Dr Bojang offered these:
“Learn a skill, have a plan for what you can give back to our community. Don’t just accumulate money when in Europe, add a skill or a degree to to it. Believe in yourself that you no inferior to anyone, aim higher and do not settle for the status quo. We need doctors, engineers, Computer Scientists, entrepreneurs etc. so our young people should try to fill these gaps for our society. Our community should in turn encourage and allow our youths to pursue the goals with limited interference. During the course of these journeys they should be patient and allow the kid to develop tangible skills that can benefit our society. In today’s world these dreams can be achieved even at home so don’t wait to come to Europe to start your career. Start it wherever is accessible be it University of The Gambia, online, vocational training school etc.”
Asked for his plans for the country of his birth and in particular, Gunjur in the field of science and medicine, Dr Bojang had this to say: “ My goal is to give back to my community using the knowledge and expertise I gained through years of research in the field of science and medicine. With the right infrastructure, I intend to go back to set up some medical facility right in Gunjur where simple laboratory tests and analysis that are currently only available in neighbouring Senegal can be obtained in The Gambia. I also have interest in lecturing at the University of The Gambia when I eventually return home”
In Dr Pasono Bojang, Jr, Dabanani has yet again produced a fine scientist whose aspiration is to one day return home to set up shop to help in the medical and healthcare advancement of his community, and by extension The Gambia and humankind. The incredibly talented and humble Dr Bojang remained in the shadows by his own choosing given his academic success, until Gunjur News Online contacted him to inform him that he has been chosen for our December "Profile" column. We are grateful to him for agreeing to share his incredible story with our readers. We hope that his story gets to inspire, not only the younger generation, but anyone aspiring to reach the pinnacle of higher education and career goals.
He concluded by expressing his profound thanks and appreciation to the Kentucky State University, University of Louisville, his mentors, Dr Ronald Gregg (PhD Mentor), Dr Kenneth S. Ramos (Post Doctoral Mentor), his brothers Alhagie Conteh, Pa Mambuna Bojang, Yusupha Comodos Touray, his beautiful wife - Isatou Jatta-Bojang and everyone who supported him during his quest for higher education in one way or another, both in the United States and Gambia. Dr Bojang currently works as a Scientist, at Roche Tissue Diagnosis (Ventana). He is married with two children and lives in Arizona, United States of America.
Dr Pasano Bojang, Jr’s impressive education and career in summary: University of Arizona, Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, Tucson, AZ. 3/2014-5/2018 • Senior Research Fellow University Of Louisville, Department of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisville, KY. 11/2010-10/2014 • Postdoctoral Fellow Medical Research Council, The Gambia, 1998-1999 • Laboratory Technician University Of Louisville, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Louisville, KY. 8/2004-10/2010 • Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY. 8/2000- 5/2004 • B.sc, Summa cum laude, Chemistry and Computer Science • Minor, Mathematics and Liberal Art Studies (Whitney Young Honors College) List of Book Chapter Ramos, K.S., and Bojang, P., Jr. Genetic and epigenetic determinants of susceptibility to environmental injury. Comprehensive Toxicology, 3rd Edition, 2017. Ramos, K.S. and Bojang, P. Jr. LINE-1. Comprehensive Toxicology, 3rd Edition, 2017. Ramos KS and Bojang P Jr. Long Interspersed Nuclear Element (LINE-1/L1) Biomedical Sciences. Caplan M (Ed). Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences: ISBN: 978-0-12-801238-3, 2015. Ramos, K.S. and Bojang, P. Jr. LINE-1. Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences, 2015. K.S. Ramos, D.E. Montoya-Durango and Pasano Bojang, Jr. Genetic and Epigenetic Determinants of Susceptibility to Environmental Injury. Caplan M (Ed). Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences: ISBN: 978-0-12-801238-3, 2015. Kenneth S. Ramos, Ivo Teneng, Diego E. Montoya-Durango, Pasano Bojang Jr., Mark T. Haeberle, Irma N. Ramos, Vilius Stribinskis, and Ted Kalbfleisch. The Intersection of Genetics and Epigenetics: Reactivation of Mammalian LINE-1 Retrotransposons by Environmental Injury, Environmental Epigenomics in Health and Disease: Epigenetics and Disease Origins. Jirtle, Randy L.; Tyson, Frederick L., (Eds). Heidelberg: Springer, 6:127-160. ISBN 978-3-642-23379-1, 2013. Pasano Bojang, Jr. and Kenneth S. Ramos. Epigenetic Therapies for Cancer, Current Cancer Treatment - Novel beyond Conventional Approaches, Prof. Oner Ozdemir (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-397-2, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/24818, 2011. GRANTS AND AWARDS 6/2017-6/2018 ($74987/yr) Development and implementation of a LINE-1 Analysis Software Tool (LAST). Dr. Jaime Seguel serves as Principal Investigator. Dr. Bojang is a co- investigator. Dr. Bojang co-designed and wrote the grant with Dr. Jaime Sequel. Grant #: 2P20GM103475-16. 7/2011-7/2014 ($294,423) Epigenetic Regulation of Cellular response to cellular and oxidative stress, AstraZeneca UK Limited, Manchester, UK. Dr Bojang was principal Investigator on the AstraZeneca grant for 1 year 7/2011-7/2012. FASEB MARC Mentored travel Award, 2017, Orlando, Florida. • American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Gordon Research Conference, Proctor Academy, NH, USA, 2011. • Astrozeneca Travel Award Joseph M and Eula C Lawrence travel scholarship, Fort Lauradele, Florida, 2008. • Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) President’s Award , 2001. • Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY, U.S.A United States All American Scholar, 2001-2003. • Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY, U.S.A Certificate of Merit, Recognition and Achievement , 2002. • Whitney Young Honors College, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY, U.S.A. Certificate of Recognition and Achievement , 2004. • Chemistry Department, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY, U.S.A.
In all, young Dr Bojang has authored 15 original research articles and seven book chapters on Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.