Hear about Kwaku Dad Abu-Bonsrah's journey...
Big Picture, Big Impact: How passion can lead you down a path of discovery
Pluripotent stem cells have increasingly been used to develop models to study disease. The scope of research being done covers most of the body, but often still lacks the complexity to accurately model the internal environment. This simplicity can also coincide with research that is focused on separate components rather than exploring all the players that make up the system.
Kwaku Dad Abu-Bonsrah in the lab
When diseases are described, we often hear them described in the context of an end-of-the-road catastrophe. We see this in work describing Parkinson’s where research focus tends to lie in the final event, and an audience is often told about the neuronal death that occurs. “Everyone focuses on the end product; people have been missing the bigger picture” says Dr Dad Abu-Bonsrah. His work aims to start building that story that has an ending but no beginning. Perhaps it is time for Parkinson’s research to shift its focus and begin gaining insight into all the events that come into play before neuro-degeneration occurs.
Dad didn’t follow a traditional path in science. He has also been involved in the entertainment business. “I have always loved theatre” says Dad. He claims his strengths lie not in the writing, but in the communicating of words someone else has written. Despite Dad's success in the entertainment world, Dad maintained his focus on his long-term vision and goal to pursue life at-the-bench. Being involved in the entertainment business has helped him be an excellent communicator in medical outreach programs. It is clear that being able to communicate science in ways that allow people to connect with it is a powerful art to master.
Fluorescent image of cortical neurons [Image Credit: Kwaku Dad Abu-Bonsrah]
Dad decided to pursue a career in science in order to make a difference, driven to one day return home to Ghana to develop the health sector’s capacity to develop therapeutics. His love for his community back home, and his desire towork with a team to make a difference has led him down the path of research. His community-driven spirit and passion for collaboration in science is strongly felt in the way he explains it. “Bringing people together is one of the biggest challenges [in science]. Collaborative research and the openness to collaborate is needed” – Dad says. It is a well-known fact that when people come together, change can happen. However, the competitiveness in science can result in lack of communication and people not pursuing collaborative efforts. “Looking after ourselves is overshadowing what we can achieve together!” claims Dad.
When considering a science career, there are so many options available to you. Dad is convinced pursuing a research career is a no-brainer (no pun intended!). “Don’t think about it, just do it” says Dad. “One thing I have come to appreciate more is that I [have the opportunity to] learn every day.” Dad’s passion to make a difference in this world has led himdown a path where curiosity leads to discovery. Life at-the-bench has its challenges, but with those challenges come opportunities. As long as we focus on the bigger picture, we are sure to make big impact.
More about Dad:
Kwaku Dad Abu-Bonsrah completed his BSc and Honours degree in Medical Laboratory Science in Ghana and later went to South Korea to do his MSc in Biomedical Science. In South Korea, he was also a Movie actor, with his premiere in 2010, and was also a TV Show guestin numerous TV shows. He later decided to pursue his PhD at the University of Melbourne. His PhD focussed on using human stem cellsand avian embryos to model paediatric neuromas. After his PhD, he joined Enzo Porrello and David Elliot’s group for his first postdoctoral position to identify potential drug candidates to reduce cardiotoxic side effects. His work led to the identification of potential drugcandidates. After completion of this work, Dad moved into Clare Parish’s lab where he is using different patient iPSC lines to derive bothventral dopaminergic and cortical neurons to elucidate the disease pathology of Parkinsons.