Meet The Nigerian Who Won US Award For Inventing Goggles That Can See Cancerous Cells

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There are indeed many talented chaps in Nigeria; these people are not only creative, some of them are intelligent too and have the ability to invent things that are remarkable and useful to those in the society and outside it.

The invented goggles made by Achilefu can help surgeons see cancerous cells during surgery.


Samuel Achilefu is a Nigerian who was born in the mid-60s, during the period when the First Nigerian civil war was on. His father as at that time was working with hospitals and clinics before the war started. It was in the war broke out.

The Biafran war affected thousands of Nigerians who had to relocate and move away from the heat of the war. Achilefu and his family members were forced to leave the north and relocate to the east.

This made them lose all they had as they could not leave with all their things. He, along with everyone else, lived with his uncle who took them in for about year before his father built a house and they all settled in.

The darkness according to the Nigerian genius is useful in viewing the cancer cells.


For people who are used to having everything they want, it was a pretty difficult phase as they had to learn to live with other people and share things with them. The war indeed scarred many people and this till date, affected lots of them.

Achilefu however, did not let this stop him or mar his future. His father tried doing everything he can to push his family forward by making them learn some morals from the incidence. He made inscriptions on the wall of the new house and laid emphasis on a true life fact. You can lose your wealth but never lose a good name.

This inscription changed Achilefu’s life and molded him into the man he has become. The young boy whose childhood memories are filled with disturbing scenes from the Biafra war and the loss of wealth has made a name for himself in the eradication of cancer all over the world.

And to think that such tremendous work came from a Nigerian is truly amazing. Achilefu had his primary and secondary education in some local schools in Nigeria.

However, he was lucky enough to have been one of the five students who won a French government scholarship and this made him attend a graduate school in France where he received a PhD in molecular and materials chemistry at the University of Nancy.

Achilefu made his family and Nigeria proud with his activities outside the country. He got to St. Louis and became the first full-time staff member of the discovery research department at Mallinckrodt Medical Inc.

The Nigerian genius was able to achieve what he has because of his educational background. This made him hold the belief that Nigerian children can change the world if they have the opportunity to do so.

He stated that he had the opportunity to meet some smart Nigerian children in the village school he attended during the war. These kids, according to him, never had the opportunity to move forward and change the world.

As a result of this, he has it in mind to create an institute that will help reach out to and train the smart kids in the low-resource areas of the world. To accomplish this, a certain number of children will be identifies yearly for comprehensive training and support through college.

While talking on the greatest breakthrough in the battle against cancer, the Nigerian genius said “We are working in the dark, so that we can see the light…therefore, there is no darkeness unless you cannot see the light.

At the moment, he is the chief of Optical Radiology Laboratory and a professor of radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. He has designed high tech goggles that will help surgeons see and identify cancer cells which are pretty difficult to see during surgery.

With the use of the invented goggles, the cancerous cells glow blue; this will help doctors ensure that there is no tumor cell left during and after the operation.

Due to this brilliant invention; Achilefu in January 2015 got the St.Louis award which is always doled out every year since 1932. The award is to recognize area residents whose hard-work and achievements has made positive impacts in the community.

The Nigerian genius with his wife and children.


Achilefu who got married to his wife twenty-one years ago was also recognized for leading the team that developed the high-tech goggles that will help surgeons see cancer.

The father of two is not stopping at this as he has the intention of inventing a light-based cancer therapy that can help in reaching tumors in deep tissue.

I want to play a role in eradicating cancer or making it a manageable disease. Toward this goal, we have developed a new approach to kill cancer cells, independent of the cancer type.

“There is a method of killing cancer with light – photodynamic therapy. People use it to treat superficial cancers, such as skin cancer, because the cancer has to be reachable by light to activate a light-sensitive drug. Or you can use an endoscope to introduce light to activate and kill cancer cells inside the body.

“We’ve discovered a new approach of using existing radiopharmaceuticals to create a light source within the tumor cells. We have tested this concept with success in animal models of cancer and plan to move into human studies in future.

With this, it is justifiable for one to say there are so many talented Nigerians in diaspora. Note that Dr. Mustapha Abubakar was also recognized as one of the hundred people called Arewa legends for the role he has played in cancer research.

Abubakar continues in his search to find the treatment and cure for cancer.

Credit: Temitope Popoola


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24 thoughts on “Meet The Nigerian Who Won US Award For Inventing Goggles That Can See Cancerous Cells”

  1. Civilization started in Africa, that’s what history says. This should have encouraged Africans, instead many think they can’t do it because that’s what they have thought us to believe. Congratulations Achilefu.

        Unlike the more unified civilizations of Egypt or Greece, Mesopotamia was a collection of varied cultures whose only real bonds were their script, their gods, and their attitude toward women. The social customs, laws, and even language of Akkad, for example, cannot be assumed to correspond to those of Babylon; it does seem, however, that the rights of women, the importance of literacy, and the pantheon of the gods were indeed shared throughout the region (though the gods had different names in various regions and periods). As a result of this, Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any single civilization. Even so, Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” primarily because of two developments that occurred there, in the region of Sumer, in the 4th millenium BCE:

        the rise of the city as we recognize that entity today,
        and the invention of writing (although writing is also known to have developed in Egypt, in the Indus Valley, in China, and to have taken form independently in Mesoamerica).
        The invention of the wheel is also credited to the Mesopotamians and, in 1922 CE, the archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley discovered “the remains of two four-wheeled wagons, [at the site of the ancient city of Ur] the oldest wheeled vehicles in history ever found, along with their leather tires” (Bertman, 35). Other important developments or inventions credited to the Mesopotamians include, but are by no means limited to, domestication of animals, agriculture, common tools, sophisticated weaponry and warfare, the chariot, wine, beer, demarcation of time into hours, minutes, and seconds, religious rites, the sail (sailboats), and irrigation.

        Archaeological excavations starting in the 1840s CE have revealed human settlements dating to 10,000 BCE in Mesopotamia that indicate that the fertile conditions of the land between two rivers allowed an ancient hunter-gatherer people to settle in the land, domesticate animals, and turn their attention to agriculture. Trade soon followed, and with prosperity came urbanization and the birth of the city. It is generally thought that writing was invented due to trade, out of the necessity for long-distance communication, and for keeping more careful track of accounts.

      2. Haters always pinpoint issues that are irrelevant to the main topic. So since we are at it…If civilization started in Mesopotamia where will civilization end?? Go consult the European sources for the answer…The same source that “promotes” the idea that civilization started in Mesopotamia. The same source that say black people are not humans. Some of us have chosen to remain dumbed down forever!!

        1. I agree with you 100%. I the comment previous to yours, it was stated that, ” Archaeological excavations starting in the 1840s CE have revealed human settlements dating to 10,000 BCE in Mesopotamia that indicate that the fertile conditions of the land between two rivers allowed an ancient hunter-gatherer people to settle in the land, domesticate animals, and turn their attention to agriculture”. Well, where did these so called Hunter-Gatherer people come from if not from Africa; and where did they learn how farm and domesticate animals? This question shoots holes in the claim about Mesopotamia.

  2. Greatness is not exclusive but it has foundation and boundaries. And foundation is the condition that will permanently great the consciousness of a problem in your society/environment that is desiring solution, while boundaries are the opportunities that avail an individual the space to create. Nigerians are humans and are also endowed with creativity by God, and we are creative.
    This is a great one for humanity and interestingly it is coming from our own: I thank God for this opportunity He has give to the global community through a Nigerian.

  3. S­t­a­r­t­­­­­­­­­­ y­o­u­r­­­­­­­­­ h­o­m­e­­­­­­­­ b­u­s­i­n­e­s­s­­­­­­­­­ r­i­g­h­t­­­­­­­­­ n­o­w. Spend­­­­­­ more­­­­­­ time­­­­­­ with­­­­­­ your­­­­­­ family­­­­­­ and­­­­­­ earn. Start­­­­­­ bringing­­­­­­ $60/hr­­­­­­ just­­­­­­ on­­­­­­ a­­­­­­ computer. Very­­­­­­ easy­­­­­­ way­­­­­­to­­­­­­ make­­­­­­ your­­­­­­ life­­­­­­ happy­­­­­­ and­­­­­­ earning­­­­­­ continuously. Start­­­­­­ here””­­­­­­….


  4. Congratulations Dr. Achilefu! It’s amazing how this life is round and no matter what you do to suppress God’s Children, what is, will be. Africans are very gifted people but money is a handicap to our success. Thank you for this invention as stated. The question now is, What’s causing this disease?

    1. Come and help the health sector in Nigeria, congrats for your award keep it up the God of heaven and the earth is with u.

  5. Please tell me, are you on the stock market ? Under what name ? Direct me to where i can invest in your company.

  6. @Monami – You should be careful, Not surprise the link you posted gave no date of the Egyptians beginning. We are the first and will be the last. I assume your parents taught you to respect your elders, we are your Mothers and Fathers. We gave the world Science, Math, and we produced the greatest dynasties know to man. We built the great pyramids that some say are over 4,500 years old, which would throw your theory right out the window. The oldest bones that are found are said to be between 120,000 and 300,000 years old, The odest fossils always found in the Motherland. Scientists unearthed more than 1,500 bones in a South African cave suggests man may be up to 2.8million years old. Maybe it would enlighten you to read – .Cheikh Anta Diop, Chancellor Williams, John Henrik Clarke, Asa Grant Hilliard III Just to get started.

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  8. Congratulations Dr Achilefu. Any discovery that will eradicate or make this dreaded disease manageable is welcome. We need more of these goggles here in Nigeria. Nigeria is blessed and we all know it.

  9. False it all started in Africa. The youngest civilization in Africa was Ancient Egypt which is dated at least 40 000 years old. Thus at least thirty five thousand years before its eventual unification. True history

  10. Congratulations Dr Achilefu.i am very proud of you,and also you make our country Nigeria proud May almighty God continue to increase your knowledge for this deadly disease call cancer.

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