Professor Stephen O’Keefe
Professor of Medicine
Stephen O’Keefe was born in South Africa, raised in Zambia, and qualified in Medicine (MBBS) at Guy’s Hospital, London University in 1972. He completed an MSc in Human Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1974 and wrote his thesis for his MD from London University in 1981 (equivalent to PhD). He trained in internal medicine at Oxford University Hospitals (FRCP) and completed a fellowship in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School in 1980. He has been a Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, the Mayo Clinic, Virginia Commonwealth University, and currently the University of Pittsburgh since 2003. In 2016 he was awarded a joint position as Extraordinary Professor in Medicine at Stellenbosch University in South African to support his career-long studies in the nutrition and health of Africans. Here, he established the African Microbiome Institute, of which he now serves as Director. His research is translational in the field of nutritional gastroenterology. He has had almost continual NIH funding since 2000. His current NIH-funded research explores the role diet (chiefly fiber-rich foods), colonic microbiota and the metabolome in explaining the profound variations in colon cancer risk in rural Africans (very low), African Americans (very high) and Alaska Native people aka ‘Eskimos’ (extreme). These studies have led to the current conduct of an NIH R01 randomized controlled trial of high fiber supplement in suppressing the extreme risk of colon cancer and non-communicable diseases in Alaska Native people, and a second R01 in investigation the potential for a high legume diet to treat obesity, T2 diabetes, and prevent colonic polyp recurrence in patients with these diseases in the USA.