July 11, 2023 | University Partners

£1.68m awarded to the University of Liverpool’s researcher for drug safety in pregnancy

A University of Liverpool researcher, Dr Adeniyi Olagunju has been awarded a prestigious and highly competitive fellowship, the Wellcome Trust Career Development Award.

The over £1.5m funding will allow Adeniyi to broaden and consolidate his research which is focused on improving the understanding of drug safety and efficacy during pregnancy and in the first 12 months after childbirth.

Dr Adeniyi Olagunju, a Tenure Track Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, said: “I am honoured and beyond thrilled to have been awarded this 8-year fellowship. This will allow me to continue my important work in this area. Pregnant women are generally excluded from clinical trials due to complex ethical and legal issues surrounding the risk to unborn babies. The resulting time lag from approval in the general population to the availability of definitive information about safety during pregnancy is simply unacceptable. There is an urgent need for a reliable way to confirm which medicines are safe in pregnancy.

“This funding will enable me to bring together and lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers to implement a bold and innovative research programme that will underpin a transition to in-human testing. I look forward to working with collaborators and stakeholders in academic institutions, industry, regulatory agencies and the public. I hope my work will contribute to major changes and accelerate new drug development for women.”

Dr Olagunju leads the Perinatal Pharmacology Group, which aims to generate actionable knowledge that will facilitate early recommendations for safe use of medicines during human pregnancy and postpartum.

He is one of the research group leaders within the Centre of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT). Professor Andrew Owen, a director of CELT said: “Adeniyi has demonstrated tremendous leadership and all of us at CELT are delighted to see his independent efforts recognised by this prestigious Wellcome Trust award. Through his research and engagement activities, Adeniyi is forging new collaborations for CELT and enabling the Centre to engage in the often-understudied area of perinatal pharmacology, which is critically important across a range of CELT programmes.”

Adeniyi joined the University of Liverpool in June 2021. Prior to this, he was a Senior Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, where his research was funded by the Wellcome Trust. Read more about his work here.

The Wellcome Career Development Award provides funding for mid-career researchers from any discipline who have the potential to be international research leaders. They will develop their research capabilities, drive innovative programmes of work and deliver significant shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing.