Alumnus Makes a Difference in Nigeria

Alumnus Makes a Difference in Nigeria

April 10, 2013 | By Deonna Anderson

Dr. Vincent Seaman, a UC Davis alumnus of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Group, is helping to eradicate polio. He found his way to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after graduating in 2006.

Vincent SeamanThe Glendale, Calif. native worked as a pharmacist for 15 years before pursuing his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology. When he began pursuing graduate education options, he found that UC Davis was the right match. "It seemed like a good fit," Seaman said. "I also liked the fact that I could do environmental [toxicology] work because of the flexible nature of the graduate group system and the uniqueness of the interdisciplinary degrees offered at UC Davis."

During his four years at UC Davis, he gained the background and experience necessary for the work he does today. His research and dissertation, "The Origin and Occurrence of Acrolein in Ambient Air", focused on developing an analytical method to determine potential human exposure levels to a known air pollutant.

Vincent Seaman with Nigerian people.

After graduating he was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and went on to work at the CDC in Atlanta, GA. Early in his career at the CDC, Seaman became the principal investigator for a cancer cluster investigation in rural Pennsylvania. Two years later, Seaman was offered an opportunity to work with the World Health Organization, whose mission includes building on the success of the global smallpox eradication program and ensuring that children in all countries benefit from life-saving vaccines. Seaman is currently in Nigeria working for their Expanded Programme for Immunization.

He has found some challenges with working abroad, but his collaboration with individuals during his four years at UC Davis has helped him find reward as well. "I value the faculty and mentors who provided vision and motivation for this type of work during my time at Davis," Seaman said.

Working for the CDC has been both professionally and culturally enhancing for Seaman. "I enjoy working with people from different cultures, and helping others gives me a sense of fulfillment," he said. To him, the best part of the job is that he spends a third of his time out in the field.

After he completes his two years in Nigeria, Seaman plans to renew his commitments there or begin work in the Southeast Asian region. "I intend to continue working in the global health arena," he said. His research experience at UC Davis, volunteerism with the STOP Polio Program in Liberia and enthusiasm about serving others weaves perfectly into the work he does at the CDC. Right now, the main focus of Seaman's work is polio eradication, which he hopes will be a reality before he moves on to his next project.

Currently, Seaman and others in Kano, Nigeria are working on a project to create accurate maps that will be useful for planning and implementing mass immunization campaigns across the country. "I try to put my efforts into projects that will have a beneficial impact on the communities here." His commitment to leaving a positive and lasting effect in others' lives does not go unnoticed. The four years it took to achieve his Ph.D. proved to be time well spent and his efforts are making a difference in the global community. As an added bonus, he's making lifelong friends along the way. "The Nigerian people are truly appreciative of everything you do to help," Seaman said.