Emeka Okafor, PhD is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases, in the Departments of Medicine and Family Medicine at UCLA.  After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, he moved to Jacksonville to pursue his Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of North Florida. He then attended the University of Florida where he completed his doctoral program in epidemiology.  His research broadly focuses on biobehavioral epidemiology of drug use in persons living with or at-risk for HIV. In his research, Emeka was able to characterize long-term patterns and predictors of marijuana use and its impact on cognitive function and HIV-related clinical outcomes.

In September, 2016, Emeka moved to Los Angeles to begin his postdoctoral training at UCLA, focusing his research on understanding the biobehavioral pathways that link drug use to HIV-disease progression and behavioral treatment approaches for drug addiction. As part of his training, he plans to develop an expertise in developing, implementing, and evaluating behavioral treatments for drug addiction in vulnerable populations. Emeka’s long-term goal is to develop an independent research program at UCLA focused on drug addiction and HIV prevention among vulnerable groups. He’s currently working on a K01 proposal to study the mental health and clinical implications of medical marijuana use in persons living with HIV.

Emeka is also involved in other research activities linked to the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine, including leading a sub-study under the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 085 that aims to understand barriers to participating and retaining in HIV prevention clinical trials. Emeka’s involvement with HPTN recently deepened as he was selected for the HPTN Scholar program to study HIV status disclosure patterns and associations with HIV sexual risk behaviors among African American men who have sex with men.

Emeka is also quite active and enjoys playing soccer, ping-pong, and scrabble and loves heading to the outdoors for a hike with his wife when he’s not working. When he’s not listening to his favorite genres of hip-hop, reggae, and alternative R&B, he is likely watching his all-time favorite TV shows Prison Break, Breaking Bad, Narcos, or Game of Thrones!

Each month, we’re featuring a member of our CHIPTS family and their work! To see past spotlights, check them out on the spotlights page and make sure to check back to see who we feature next!