School of Health Sciences

Barbara Akum, Ph.D.

Barbara Akum, Ph.D.

Office: Science and Technology Center

Tel: 617-243-2252



  • Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology, Rutgers University, NJ
  • M.S. in Biotechnology, Kean University, Union, NJ  


Professional work experience
Dr. Akum has worked as Research Scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIAID) and the Henry Jackson Foundation/AFRRI in Maryland. Her research involved studying the immune response to vaccinia and influenza viruses using mouse infection models.  She also studied the efficacy of radiation countermeasures in mice exposed to mixed neutron-gamma fields and combined injury.

Dr. Akum has also done a postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Maryland where she studied the behavior of transposable elements in a Malaria transmitting vectors. She also did a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University in NY where she studied the mechanisms underlying Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)  

Selected Publications:

  • Hickman HD, Mays JW, Gibbs J, Kosik I, Magádan JG, Takeda K, Das S, Reynoso GVNgudiankama BF, Wei J, Shannon JP, McManus D, Yewdell JW  (2018) Influenza A Virus Negative Strand RNA is Translated for CD8+ 2 T Cell Immunosurveillance J Immunol July 16, 2018
  • P. Swiatkowski, I. Nikolaeva, B.F Akum, A. Zucco, G. Kumar, G. D'Arcangelo, and B.L. Firestein (2017). Role of Akt-independent mTOR and GSK3β signaling in sublethal NMDA-induced injury and the recovery of neuronal morphology and electrophysiology. Scientific Report. May 8: 7(1)1539
  • O'Neill KM, Akum BF, Dhawan ST, Kwon M, Langhammer CG, Firestein BL. (2015) Assessing effects on dendritic arborization using novel Sholl analyses. Front Cell Neurosci. Jul 30; 9:285.

Courses: Teach General Biology, Microbiology and Genetics   

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Originally from the central African nation of Cameroon, I came here to study and did all my undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States. For more than ten years I was an international student and had to learn how to live in a foreign country. This has allowed me to be more understanding of students from various backgrounds. I travelled most of my life, and still do. So, I have seen many countries and have learned to appreciate diversity I enjoy feasting with foods of different nations. I also enjoy music and dancing. 

What is important for your students to take away from your classes?
In my classes, I emphasize on new learning skills. I aim to teach students different ways to learn and hope that by the time they have completed one of my classes, they will have gained some knowledge on ways to learn better. I believe learning never ends in the life of an individual, and the earlier students realize that the better it is. I also seek to convince each student that we all have a variety of skills that can be discovered in a classroom. All students have abilities that can help them become successful. My job is to guide to discovering those skills    

How does your professional background influence your time in the classroom with students?
I have worked for more than ten years in research and development and have been able to fine tune my problem-solving skills. During that time, I was also immersed in the classroom. I am aware of the societal changes that influence today's students and I am always seeking new ways to help students approach the classroom material better. I am constantly reading and introducing students to new technologies and novel research