Prof Isa Marte Hussaini: The Abusite pioneering the use of local herbs for cancer therapy.

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Professor Isa Marte Hussaini is a Nigerian scientist, pharmacist, medical researcher and professor of pharmacology, pathology, neuroscience, and oncology. He is a distinguished abusite widely known for his research efforts and findings on the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of cancer.

He is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, inducted into the academy in 2013. He specialized in cancer research and is currently exploring the use of local herbs for cancer therapy. His report to the Nigerian Academy of Science on the use of local herbs for Cancer therapy suggested that herbal plants are more efficacious than the current drugs used in cancer treatments.

Professor Isa Marte Hussaini is a Nigerian scientist,
Professor Isa Marte Hussaini

In May 2015, he presented a paper entitled: “The mining of Nigerian medicinal plants for cancer therapy” in Abuja at the induction of Fellows of the Nigeria Academy of Science where he stated the predictions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer that annual global new cases of cancers are expected to rise from 11 million to 16 million by 2020, with 70 percent of them coming from developing countries.

Birth and education

Prof Isa Marte Hussaini was born in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, North-Eastern Nigeria on November 10, 1956. He attended Yerwa Central Primary School Maiduguri before he attended Yerwa Government Secondary School Maiduguri. His brilliance and leadership qualities distinguished him from his peers and he was appointed the Head Boy (Senior Prefect) of the school. He graduated in 1975, obtaining the West African School Certificate.

In 1976, he was admitted to the great Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Pharmacy and obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1979.  He had his pharmacy internship, at the General Hospital, Maiduguri, from 1979 to 1980 before he proceeded to the General Hospital Kontogora, Niger State for his National Youth Service programme from 1980 to 1981. He obtained his master’s degree in Pharmacology from Chelsea College, the University of London in 1983.

He later received a doctorate degree (Ph. D) in pharmacology from King’s College London in 1987 and in 1997, he received an MBA from Averett University, a private non-profit college in Danville, Virginia, US, in south-central Virginia.

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Prof Isa Marte Hussaini’s Career

Prof Isa Marte Hussaini joined the Department of Pharmacology, College of Medical Sciences, the University of Maiduguri in 1981 but left in 1982 for a Graduate Program at Chelsea College University of London. After he received doctorate degree (Ph. D) in Pharmacology from King’s College London in 1987 he returned to Nigeria to join the services of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1990 as a senior lecturer at the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, where he served as the acting Head of Department of Pharmacology from 1990 to 1991.

Professor Isa Marte Hussaini is a Nigerian scientist,
Professor Isa Marte Hussaini at the Genome Centre

His unrelenting passion for research made him move into Nigeria’s foremost pharmaceutical research institution, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Abuja, in 1992, where he served as a chief research fellow and the Head of Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology from 1992 to 1993.

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While at NIPRD, Prof. Hussaini was involved in many research exploits of the institution. As a result of his research dexterity and efforts which attracted international interest, he was appointed a research associate (Neuropathology), Department of Pathology, at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA, in 1993, where he served till 1994. He was later appointed as an assistant professor in the same department between 1995 and 2000

Prof. Hussaini later served as the associate professor of research in the same department from 2000 to 2002. From 2002 to 2010, Prof Hussaini served as an assistant professor and associate professor (reader) of Pathology and Neuroscience in the Department of Pathology and Neuroscience, University of Virginia School of Medicine.

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Prof. Hussaini also served as a visiting professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, from 2004 to 2015. He was appointed as the acting dean of the faculty of Pharmacy, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria in 2009 and was made the substantive dean of the faculty in 2010, in which capacity he served until 2014.


In November 2015, he became a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Pharmacy.

Marte is a scientist who focuses on the use of herbal plants in the treatment of cancer. To present his contributions to cancer research, he was hosted by Professor Louise Serpell through the Sussex Nigerian Society, the University of Sussex in an event titled Meet the Nigerian Scientist

On 12 February 2016, at the university’s Genome Damage and Stability Centre, he presented a lecture, titled “Exploitation of medicinal plant compounds in the search for novel cancer therapeutic agents”. In attendance was Michael Farthing, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex and the Nigerian acting high commissioner in London, Adah Simon Ogah.

His Contributions, research and publications

Prof Isa Marte Hussaini’s achievements in cancer treatment are best appreciated when one considers their manifold significance and the massive relief they have brought to many cancer patients and their loved ones. Usually, contemporary methods of treating cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and immunotherapy, have been known to be very expensive (especially to patients from low-income countries) and sometimes inefficient in the treatment and management of cancer.

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Consequently, many researchers in recent times have begun to explore alternative therapies including the use of medicinal plants such as Nigella Sativa, Vernonia amydalina among-others, to serve as more effective and less expensive therapeutic agents. Unsurprisingly, these local herbs and their derivative phytocompounds are being increasingly recognized as useful complementary treatments for cancer.

As an erudite scholar and researcher, Prof. Hussaini has been at the forefront in the search and investigation of useful local medical plants for cancer treatment.

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The renowned scholar has, to his credit, 105 peer-reviewed journal publications and five book chapters which have been cited over 3,200 times by other researchers worldwide. Prof. Hussaini has spoken at over 20 international conferences and symposia and he has been invited as a guest lecturer in many universities throughout the world.

He is a reviewer for several international journals in the field of Neuro-Oncology, Cancer Research, Biological Chemistry, Neuroscience, Pharmacy, and Pharmacology, among others. He has been a consultant and reviewer of grants for several international agencies, including; American Cancer Society (2008-2011), National Institutes of Health (2003-2010), the Qatar National Research Fund and Israel and French Science Foundations.

Between 1997 and 2010, Prof. Hussaini was awarded four independent research grants totaling 5 million US dollars. He was also awarded 10 million Naira Institutional TETFund grant in 2011 and 34 million Naira in 2015 by General TY Danjuma Foundation to establish a cancer research laboratory at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.



Prof Isa Marte Hussaini is happily married and blessed with six children.

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One thought on “Prof Isa Marte Hussaini: The Abusite pioneering the use of local herbs for cancer therapy.

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