Nifemi (pictured, right) with her inspiration: her parents and sister.


Meet Nifemi Adeoye

Amgen Scholar, amateur movie critic, makeup artist and chef with plans to enable preventative research for women, children, and immigrant communities.

Sitting down to talk to Nifemi Adeoye, a 2023 Amgen Scholar from the University of Toronto cohort, you can sense her passion and enthusiasm. Adeoye begins with a statement that instantly resonates, "I don't believe it should be a privilege to understand the things that affect your life, and science affects everyone." This belief inspires her life and work.

Passionate about preventative care

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Adeoye immigrated to Canada at the age of 3. "My personal experience has shown me how daunting and intimidating science and health information can be. I watched my parents battle some of the common health challenges many Black immigrants face. This was compounded by having to navigate a somewhat culturally insensitive healthcare system. As I got older, I noticed that my parents struggled to implement preventative healthcare practices into their busy schedules as they worked to become familiar with living in a new country. Both these experiences pushed me in the direction of using science to support and improve the quality of life of the people around me."

"I am passionate about preventative research and care, especially for women, children, and immigrant communities. My goal is to combine public health principles with epidemiological research to understand the interplay between maternal and child health within the scope of genetic and infectious diseases."

Adeoye (front, center) with the 2023 Amgen Scholars cohort at the University of Toronto, joined for a kick-off event by faculty members and the Amgen Canada Leadership Team.

A worthwhile path

Currently a third-year student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Adeoye knows that her chosen path is challenging, yet despite the sleepless nights, the tears shed over midterms and the pressure of exams, her dedication to science never wanes. "At the end of the day, it'll be worth it if someone says, 'Wow, she helped me,'" she remarks with a determined glint in her eye.

Adeoye warmly describes her summer as an Amgen Scholar, speaking about the hours in the lab, the camaraderie with other participants and the joy of enhancing her knowledge in a new area. She recalls the support of mentors and the exchange of ideas with peers as well as her cohort's travels to California for the North American Symposium, which this year was held in July at UCLA.

"Adeoye engaging in roundtable discussions at the North America Amgen Scholars Symposium at the University of California, Los Angeles."

Shoot your shot

However, Adeoye's journey isn't just about fulfilling her own personal curiosity. She emphasizes the importance of changing perceptions, of showing her ethnic community that there is a role for them in science. "Immigrants typically experience a lack of social connection and understanding of how the system in areas like education and health operates. This makes it difficult for kids like me to access opportunities. I didn't have the benefit of a science role model within my family or have the opportunity to listen to other people's experiences.

"A year ago, I wasn't even aware of the Amgen Scholars Program. I discovered the opportunity through a program targeted at underrepresented youth called the Community of Support based out of the University of Toronto. I was worried I wouldn't get in, but I took the leap and applied." It's a decision that has brought her on the experience of a lifetime. "My advice to anyone considering applying is to believe in yourself and go for it – shoot your shot, right?" She relives the excitement of the moment she called her parents to tell them that she had been accepted onto the Amgen Scholars Program.

Diverse interests and different voices

Our conversation takes a different turn when she mentions her interest in movies, makeup and cooking. Adeoye is in demand on campus as a makeup artist and loves helping friends find the right color palette to suit their skin tone. She also enjoys cooking with her family and regularly posts movie reviews. It's a reminder that behind the diligent scientist is a young woman with diverse interests and a busy life outside of the lab.

Throughout, a recurring theme emerges: the human side of science. Adeoye emphasizes the importance of showcasing the multifaceted lives of scientists. They aren't just figures buried in research; they're individuals with stories, passions and experiences that transcend their profession.

As Adeoye says, "Different perspectives are so important in science. Science needs people from diverse backgrounds, different walks of life, so they can share their perspectives and have a say in how we shape research. For example, I volunteer on the Youth Advisory Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which allows me to share my youth and community views on proposed funding initiatives."

Adeoye with the Amgen Scholars Program Leader Ziyad Khatab

Adeoye's journey as an Amgen Scholar is a testament to the power of perseverance, community and the unwavering belief that science needs everyone.

About the Amgen Scholars Program

Established in 2006, the Amgen Scholars program recently increased funding to support an additional 500 students around the world over the next two years, which will bring the total number of Amgen Scholars alumni to nearly 6,000. Amgen Scholars have represented over 900 colleges and universities to date.

The Amgen Foundation has announced a fresh commitment of $8.1 million to the program, increasing the total commitment to over $80 million since 2006. The program is now hosted at 25 institutions worldwide, across the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada, with two new U.S. institutions joining: Howard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scott Heimlich, president of the Amgen Foundation, is steadfast in his belief that everyone needs science and science needs everyone. "Science is key to solving many of the challenges we face, and a research experience can be a real onramp into science. Yet too often many college students don't have the opportunity at their home institution to engage in a high-quality research experience. The Amgen Scholars program makes that possible by opening the door to many of the world's leading universities and research institutions. Scholars conduct research under top faculty, learn to collaborate effectively and gain practical skills for graduate study and post-graduate careers."

Amgen Scholars also benefit from participating in seminars and networking events and taking part in a symposium in their respective region. Throughout the program, participants meet peers, present their research findings, learn about biotechnology and hear from leading scientists. Financial support for students is a critical component of the program, which helps ensure that eligible students, regardless of income, can participate.

The Amgen Scholars Program in the US, Europe, Asia, and Canada is now open for 2024 applications. Learn more about the Amgen Scholars program at Further information – including how to apply – is available here.

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