Engr. Abu Ozigi Director, Technology Innovation And Infrastructure, Smedan
While it is true that life, irrespective of geographic location has its many challenges, some people have often demonstrated a strong will at surmounting these challenges even at a very tender age. These set of people, usually with a very humble beginning seem divinely prepared to not only wrestle but also ultimately win the battle against many of life’s challenges. While some have ended up in different unfortunate circumstances, some of them have risen to the peak of their careers and have continued to set the pace wherever they find themselves.
Nigeria sure has a sizeable number of these great people. One of them is Professor David Olufemi Olaleye. Currently a Professor of Virology at the Department of Virology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Olaleye’s story is that of one who was lifted from a humble beginning to grace.
An astute professional, Olaleye’s steady rise to a world-renowned professor started from just a Resident Veterinary Officer (Pathology) in the Department of Veterinary Pathology in September 1982. With patience, determination and commitment to duty, Olaleye rose through the ranks as Demonstrator, Trainee Veterinary Diagnostic Pathologist, Lecturer I, Consultant Virologist, Senior Lecturer, Acting Head of Department of Virology and Director, WHO National Influenza Centre, University College Hospital, Ibadan. He later became Head of Department and subsequently Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences all at the University of Ibadan.
Olaleye’s pedigree as a global brand and most sought after in his specialization is indeed worthy of note. Aside his many national certifications and trainings, Olaleye also had various trainings and certifications from some of the world’s most respected institutions. He was a Fogarty International Research Fellow (1990-1992) at the University of Southern California, USA when he discovered for the first time, a new strain of HIV-1 in Nigeria named HIV-1IBNg (Ibadan, Nigeria) which was later renamed HIV-1 CRFO2, now recognized as the predominant HIV-1 circulating strain in West Africa. He also utilized the Lady Tata Leukaemia Research Fellowship (1992/93) at the same institution. He had a certificate on Radiation Safety from the University of Southern Califonia, Los Angeles, USA, as far back as January 1991. Same year, he also proceeded on a certificate course in Principles of Epidemiology and Control of Communicable Diseases in 1992 at the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA. Professor Olaleye was also a DAAD and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Institute for Chemotherapy Research in Hamburg and Frankfurt, Germany respectively.
As a three times Head of Department of Virology at the University of Ibadan, he performed excellently and helped place the department as one of the best in the entire university and the country. Professor Olaleye worked assiduously to attract equipment and facilities that made the laboratories in the department centres of excellence in different areas of virology, and indeed, one of the best in Africa today. When he was Dean of Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Olaleye’s tenure was characterized by breathtaking achievements. Under his professional watch, the Unibadan Conference of Biomedical Research was established. He also played a major role in the establishment of the university’s pre-clinical of the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences e-Learning Centre, whilst also facilitating the much-needed training support for academic staff. He did not stop at just these. He ensured that the faculty funds were judiciously used to buy teaching equipment in all the departments where such were needed.
In addition to his role as a Consultant Virologist to the Federal Ministry of Health and several local and international organizations on health and education, he was a member of the Presidential Committee of claims evaluation of cure of HIV/AIDS and Presidential Technical Committee for control of avian influenza in Nigeria.. His curriculum vitae shows that the professor has attracted over $27million dollars research grant during his career as Principal Investigator or co-Investigator of several research projects. Professor Olaleye is currently the contact Principal Investigator of a US government National Institutes of Health five years $9.6million grant to the University of Ibadan for capacity development in six Nigeria universities and an international NGO in Nigeria in collaboration with two universities in the USA among his other research projects. It is the single largest research grant to the University of Ibadan to date. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Medicine (Virology) at the Global Health Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA.