Liberia Gets First Toxicologist

Alphonso Toweh
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An alumnus of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Liberia, becomes Liberia’s first Health Toxicologist when he received his Master of Science degree in Toxicology (the study of poisons) with distinction following a competitive academic pursuit at the prestigious Jilin University, People’s Republic of China.

Alvin G. Grugbaye graduated in 2016 with distinction from the University Liberia, School of Pharmacy with Bachelor of Pharmacy and earlier in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the Stella Maris Polytechnic, Mother Patern College of Health Sciences.

The young Liberian medical practitioner once again broke the jinx on————— 2020 when he completed, with distinction in Asia, a specialized graduate course which spanned three years. In his path of academic excellence, Alvin had earlier walked out of the University of Liberia, School of Pharmacy as a dux of the 2016 class and with awards as a graduate with the highest performance in Pharmacology and Toxicology;  a graduate with the highest performance in Medicinal Chemistry; and a graduate with the highest performance in Pharmacognosy Natural Products.

Alvin

Given his perspective of the field of toxicology in a third world country like Liberia, Alvin intimates, “A society that does not have the expertise or capacity to rigorously examine what its citizens apply to their body as a cosmetic agent, consume as medication, eat as food, or drink as water is unimaginable to exist in this contemporary time.

The task for toxicologists in Liberia is enormous ranging from assessing, drinking water disinfection byproducts (DBPs) toxicity, cosmetic agents, food preservative health effects, pesticide toxicity, toxic substance control, poison control center, etc.” He however, notes that “We do not need a  very sophisticated setup to begin. Information is available in databases all over the place. We just need individuals with some expertise to use available data from other countries to begin this critical but essential process. We are exposed to so many harmful substances in an excess amount with little or nothing being said about it.”

Regarding his career path, Alvin recalls, “When I chose this specialization a few years back, I was aware of the risk of being the first Liberian to specialize in this field but familiar with our country’s need for this specialty. Taking the road less traveled is obviously full of loneliness but accompanying the brave is the hope for change. I hope my professional choice can contribute to such a change too.”

Alvin now distinguishes himself asa result-oriented health scientist with more than 4 years of career experience at home and abroad; a toxicologist with scientific research skills,  with  hands-on experience in clinical practice and Laboratory-based investigation; a specialist pharmacist with clinical and public health skills and  with 8 years of direct  experiential dealings with pedagogical and administrative complexities as an educator and a  trainer.

Meanwhile, Alvin G. Grugbaye has expressed gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the sponsorship study at Jilin University and to the Government of Liberia for maintaining the “One-China-Policy”. He further paid glowing deference to the administration, the professors and his mentor who gave him the tools and everything he needed to succeed.

Jilin, with more than 62,000 students is one of the  42 Chinese universities classified in 2017 as “Double First Class”. It has 124 undergraduate programs, 311 master’s degree programs, 240 doctoral degree programs and 37 post-doctoral programs. It has 1,270 full professors and 1652 associate professors.

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About Post Author

Alphonso Toweh

Alphonso Toweh Alphonso has  been in the profession for over twenty years. He has worked for many international media outlets including: West Africa Magazine, Africa Week Magazine, African Observer and did occasional reporting for CNN, BBC World Service, Sunday Times, NPR, Radio Deutchewells, Radio Netherlands. He is the current correspondent for Reuters. Mr. Toweh holds first MA with honors in International Relations and a candidate for second master in International Peace studies and Conflict Resolution.
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