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Membership type: full

Lily Paemka

Country of origin: Ghana Currently in: Ghana, Accra General field of specialization: Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology
Early Career Fellowship
Academic Background


2014 Doctorate Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology
2007 Master Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology
2003 Undergraduate Biological Systems and Organisms
Research and Profession

Current Research Activities

Structural, Cell and Molecular Biology

Characterizing Genetic and Pathogenic breast cancer risk factors in Ghanaian women. The burden of cancer in Africa is an expanding public health challenge. Breast cancer in the indigenous black population presents with an aggressive biology with a disproportionately high mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, 2.1 million women are affected annually and in 2018, 627,000 succumbed to the disease. Over 19.3 million women are estimated to suffer from the disease by 2025, with the majority from Sub-Saharan Africa. About 80% of Ghanaian women, compared to 15% in high-income countries, present with late stage (III or IV) disease. In Ghana, breast cancer accounts for 16% of all cancer cases and mortality is as high as 50%. A retrospective analysis on breast cancer subtypes from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital showed a disproportionately high percentage of younger women presented with breast cancer. The aggressive triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) sub-type is overrepresented in people of West-African ancestry and accounts for a disproportionate number of metastatic cases and deaths. Most breast cancer studies are largely Eurocentric and not necessarily representative of the African population. Breast cancer develops from complex genetic alterations in somatic mammary cells and is known to have a complex etiology involving epigenetic, genetic and environmental factors that include bacteria and viruses. The contribution of genetics to the pathogenesis of breast cancer in Africa remains largely unexplained, therefore the Ghanaian population presents an opportunity to identify novel variants. My lab therefore conducts research to provide comprehensive genetic data to help explain the contribution to breast cancer in black women and develop resources that could lead to novel molecular therapeutic options. As these risk factors are unknown in Ghanaian women, the Paemka lab therefore aims to identify germline and somatic variations that predispose Ghanaian women to breast cancer and identify pathogenic risk factors associated with the disease in the population. The long-term goal is to provide a comprehensive genetic landscape of breast cancer in black women and develop resources that could lead to novel molecular therapies. Biological samples collected from consenting women at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital are subjected to methodologies that include Next Generation sequencing and pathway analyses. By identifying and characterizing bacteria, viruses, cancer-predisposing genes and pathways involved in breast cancer, we may better understand the process of breast cancer tumorigenesis in our population and sub-Saharan Africa. To mitigate the high rates of late presentation of breast cancer in Ghanaian women, the Paemka lab, since 2018 has established and spearheaded the Nufu festival to engage the public, raise breast cancer awareness and provide free breast examinations.

Publications resulting from Research: 

Paemka L, Mahajan VB, Ehaideb SN, Skeie JM, Tan MC, Wu S, Cox AJ, Sowers LP, Gecz J, Jolly L, Ferguson PJ, Darbro B, Schneider A, Scheffer IE, Carvill GL, Mefford HC, El-Shanti H, Wood SA, Manak JR, Bassuk AG. Seizures are regulated by ubiquitin-specific peptidase 9 X-linked (USP9X), a de-ubiquitinase.PLoS Genet. (2015) 11:e1005022. PMID:25763846
Paemka L, Mahajan VB, Skeie JM, Sowers LP, Ehaideb SN, Gonzalez-Alegre P, Sasaoka T, Tao H, Miyagi A, Ueno N, Takao K, Miyakawa T, Wu S, Darbro BW, Ferguson PJ, Pieper AA, Britt JK, Wemmie JA, Rudd DS, Wassink T, El-Shanti H, Mefford HC, Carvill GL, Manak JR, Bassuk AG. PRICKLE1 interaction with SYNAPSIN I reveals a role in autism spectrum disorders. PLoS One. (2013) 8:e80737 PMID:24312498
Paemka L, McCullagh BN, Abou Alaiwa MH, Stoltz DA, Dong Q, Randak CO, Gray RD, McCray PB Jr., Monocyte derived macrophages from CF pigs exhibit increased inflammatory responses at birth J Cyst Fibros. (2017) 16:471-474 PMID:28377087
Sowers LP, Loo L, Wu Y, Campbell E, Ulrich JD, Wu S, Paemka L, Wassink T, Meyer K, Bing X, El-Shanti H, Usachev YM, Ueno N, Manak JR, Shepherd AJ, Ferguson PJ, Darbro BW, Richerson GB, Mohapatra DP, Wemmie JA, Bassuk AG. Disruption of the non-canonical Wnt gene PRICKLE2 leads to autism-like behaviors with evidence for hippocampal synaptic dysfunction Mol Psychiatry (2013) 18:1077-89 PMID:23711981
Gray RD, Hardisty G, Regan KH, Smith M, Robb CT, Duffin R, Mackellar A, Felton JM, Paemka L, McCullagh BN, Lucas CD, Dorward DA, McKone EF, Cooke G, Donnelly SC, Singh PK, Stoltz DA, Haslett C, McCray PB, Whyte MKB, Rossi AG, Davidson DJ Delayed neutrophil apoptosis enhances NET formation in cystic fibrosis Thorax (2018) 73:134-144 PMID:28916704
Bernard Owusu Asimeng, Elvis Kwason Tiburu, Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Lily Paemka, Claude Fiifi Hayford, Samuel Essien-Baidoo, Obed Korshie Dzikunu & Prince Atsu Anani | Duncan Shepherd (Reviewing editor) (2019) Electrochemical evaluation of ion substituted-hydroxyapatite on HeLa cells plasma membrane potential, Cogent Engineering, 6:1, DOI: 10.1080/23311916.2019.1614756

Current profession

Current professional activities type: 

Fellowship with OWSD

Fellowship with OWSD

Fellowship with OWSD

Fellowship awarded

Early Career Fellowship awarded 2020

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