By Franklin Sone Bayen — Professor Julius Oben has added another feather on his scientific cap by emerging winner of this year’s top award – the Mabl Eajaz Golden Medal prize in Los Angeles, USA.

Prof. Oben earlier gained international prominence following his research breakthrough in bush mango as a therapy for obesity. A lecturer and researcher in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Yaounde I, Oben won the award at the 14th International Functional Foods Conference that took place at the University of California, August 20-22.

The scientist, who currently holds more than six patents on products benefitting from his research, is an expert in the area of nutritional biochemistry and functional foods and has been in the news since 2010. He became a household name after his research revealed that Irvingia gabonensis, otherwise called bush mango, African mango, ogbono, dikka nuts or ndock in the local parlance and various African languages, is a therapy for obesity.

Oben’s presentation at this year’s conference entitled “Anti-inflammatory, anthropometric and lipomodulatory effects of an aqueous extract of Dichrostachys glomerata (Dyglomera®) in obese persons with metabolic syndrome” was chosen for the Mabl Eajaz Golden Medal prize by an international jury which included Professor Anahid Jewett, Director of Tumor Immunology Laboratory, Division of Oral Biology and Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California; Jason White, PhD, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Dr. Danik Matiryosan, President of the Functional Foods Center, Dallas, Texas; Michiko Suzawa, Director of Miyauchi Citrus Research Center, Ltd, Takasaki-shi, Gunma, Japan; and Professor Garth Nicolson of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Laguna Beach, California. 

The professor’s work, which was selected ahead of presentations by more than 30 other researchers from all over the world, was judged by the jury to be well presented, structured and most relevant to the advancement of functional foods research. Oben thanked the conference organisers for bringing together experts in functional and medicinal foods from all over the world, states a press release.

He also acknowledged the encouragement of the Rector of the University of Yaounde I as well as the contribution of his students and collaborators at the University of Yaounde I. He said the prize money will go towards the development and equipping of his research laboratory, as well as to encourage young scientists take a greater interest in functional foods research.

Prof. Oben has been researching on obesity and obesity-related complications since 1988.
He believes that “the inability of scientists worldwide to address the obesity epidemic is as a result of considering obesity as a single disease, rather than a series of related complications each of which must be effectively addressed.”

First published in The Post print edition no 01466