By Joseph Erunke
Her ascendancy to the head of Chrisland University, one of the newly established vision-driven private universities in Nigeria, located in Abeokuta, Ogun State,after approval by the federal government, did not come to many as surprise, given her academic pedigree.
Yes, no doubt, Professor Chinedum Peace Babalola, has been appointed the first female Vice Chancellor of the Chrisland University, Abeokuta, thus taking her away from the Presitious University of Ibadan, where she had remained to practice her trained career after emerging equally as the first female Professor of Pharmacy.
It is often said that the reward of hardwork is in heaven, but looking at what has befallen Professor Babalola Chinedum Peace, following her hardwork, one cannot but conclude that that belief is no longer fashionable.
Babalola proved her mettle in both her professional career and leadership at her alma mater, when she did not only lecture but also serve as Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, respectively,
While holding sway as the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, she was also the principal investigator of the University of Ibadan Centre for Drug discovery, development and production, founded by MacArthur Foundation ,Faculty of Pharmacy , University of Ibadan.
Apart from emerging as the first female Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacokinetics from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Babalola Chinedum Peace (née Anyabuike) traversed the length and breadth of academic world beyond the shores of Africa where she bagged other certificates to her credit.
Prof.Chinedum obtained a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm.) degree in 1983 from the University of Ife, now ObafemiAwolowo University and a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the same University in 1997. She completed her pre-doctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia in 1995, and a PG Diploma in Industrial Pharmacy Advanced Training (IPAT) in 2012 jointly from Kilimanjaro School of Pharmacy, Tanzania and Purdue University, USA.
Professor Babalola rose through the ranks as a Graduate Assistant at OAU, Ile-Ife in 1985 to a Lecturer. In 1998, she was appointed a Senior Lecturer at University of Ibadan, became a Reader in 2003 and a Professor in 2006.She has served the Faculty and university in various capacities. She was the Director of General Studies Unit (GSP) UI (2005-2010) where she brought innovations currently being used for processing of POST-UME in University of Ibadan till date.She has served as Head of department (twice) and sub-dean in Faculty of Pharmacy.
Professor Babalola has had an incredibly productive career. Her research has continuously helped to provide novel results contributing to important drug information by an African scientist.Shehas focused her research on pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics (PK/PD), pharmaceutical analysis, pharmacogenetics and bioethics as tools to study the disposition of several antimalarials, anti-infectives and other drugs in Nigerians as a guide to optimizing therapy in Blacks. Her research has revealed significant reduction in (40-90%) levels of antimicrobials by antimalarial in human calling for urgent dose regimen adjustment.The outcome of her research has revealed wide ethnic/racial in drug disposition and treatment outcome which further generated her interest in pharmacogenetic studies in African population.
Peace is one of the scientists that reported the first pharmacogeneticstudy in healthy and sickle cell patients in Nigerians with proguanil as a probe. The report revealed that some Nigerians are carriers of mutant poor metabolizer genes CYP2C19, as well as marked differences between sickle cell patients and healthy population on this gene disposition.
This erudite scholar has received over 20 fellowships and grants and has been a Visiting research scholar to various institutions abroad including University of Jena, Germany, Hartford Hospital/University of Connecticut, USA, College of Pharmacy, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Temple University among others.
In 2011, Babalola led the team that won MacArthur Foundation grant and set up a Centre of excellence called Centre for Drug Discovery, Development and Production (CDDDP) – first of its kind in Africa, for empowering Africans to make and regulate their own medicines. CDDDP is one of the 11 designated RCORE centers of excellence in African Medicine Regulatory harmonization (AMRH). The Centre now has a number of medicinal/herbal products ready for registration by NAFDAC.
She is a Co-investigator on NIH-Fogarty grants with University of Chicago and North Western University, Chicago, USA
Due to her novel academic contributions, Prof Babalola became the first female pharmacist to be inducted as Fellow of Academy of Sciences (FAS) in 2011 (highest scientific award in Nigeria), first female Nigerian to be inducted Fellow of African Academy of Sciences (FAAS) in 2013. Others are Fellow of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN), Fellow of West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (FPCPharm) and Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Pharmacists (FNAPharm). She was the first female professor to give inaugural lecture from Faculty of Pharmacy in 2011.She serves on several committees in these organizations.
She is the first pharmacist to be appointed as a specialist adviser and consultant in a Nigerian hospital – University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. She is also an adjunct Professor in Institute of Advanced Medical Research and Training (IAMRAT) College of Medicine, UI where she collaborates with several other medical researchers within and outside Nigeria.
Professor Babalola is also making waves in public related issues. She was a member of University of Ibadan/University College Hospital Institutional Review Board (UI/UCH IRB) from 2002 to 2013. She is a contributor to the first written ethical guidelines in UI & UCH.
She also served as Co-investigator in Community Directed Intervention (CDI) program me sponsored by W.H.O. between 2004-2008 for the control of malaria, tuberculosis, Vitamin A deficiency and onchocerciasis in selected Local Government Areas in Oyo State.
Professor Babalola is a member of many international/national organisations such as International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX), International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (IATDM-CT), African Organisation Research Training in Cancer (AORTIC), Pharmacists Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigerian Association of Pharmacists in Academia (NAPA), Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), Sickle Cell Hope Alife Foundation (SCHAF) and Institute of Public Analyst of Nigeria (IPAN) among others
She has taken her mentees and junior colleagues at the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife on the ride with her by promoting their independent careers. She has supervised many undergraduate and postgraduate students.
She is one of the most important scientists Africa has produced in this century and a singularly exceptional woman who has made a transformative contribution to the drug research and public health.
In 2016, she was selected as one of 10 most influential female scientists in Nigeria (http://thepinknetworkng.com/10-most-influential-nigerian-women-in-science/). She was recently selected as the only African (out of 11 persons world-over) member of the Strategy Working Group (SWG) of the joint committee of International Council for Science (ICSU) and International Social Science Council (ISSC) globally (http://www.icsu.org/news-centre/news/top-news/members-of-strategy-working-group-and-transition-task-force-appointed-to-develop-frameworks-for-possible-icsu-issc-merger).
Babalola has published over 130 papers comprising of peer-review journals, monographs, book chapters and abstracts in reputable international and local outlets.
Prof Chinedum Peace Babalola, a renowned administrator will be taking her wealth of experience gathered over the years to her new place of assignment to actualise the aim of the University of becoming world class institution renown for intellectual freedom, ethical standards, research, community service & outstanding training of a new generation of leaders.