THE PROFESSIONAL PROFESSOR: EXPLORING THE PECULIARITIES OF ACADEMIC PHARMACY PRACTICE”
Speech given at PANS, OAU, Ile-Ife on 28 November, 2018
By Prof (Mrs) Chinedum Peace Babalola (B.Pharm, PhD, FAS, FAAS)
From Royal Society of Pharmacy, UK
Academic, University of Huddersfield
Being an academic pharmacist has given me the fantastic opportunity of engaging at the very forefront of science, technology and practice sparing little chance for boredom to set in – without doubt it is a career that is rich in variety and individuality, offering stimulation and excitement throughout with uncompromising personal satisfaction and pride.
My story –
Good news: Whether it’s teaching, researching, practising or a mix of all three, Academic pharmacists enjoy exciting careers in universities, research institutes and other organisations throughout the world.
Academic Pharmacists are like farmers who sow and sow and wait and wait to reap the harvest. They rejoice at their harvest like the farmer does. It is fulfilling
• Academic Pharmacy
• Clinical Pharmacy – (specialties – paediatric, surgery, oncology, gynaecology. Nutrition etc)
• Community pharmacy
• Hospital pharmacy – specialties
• Industrial pharmacy
• Military pharmacists
• Pharmacists in GP practices
• Pharmacists working in care homes
• Pharmacists working in urgent & emergency care
• Primary care pharmacy
• Regulatory affairs
• Veterinary pharmacy
• Social Pharmacy
• Public Health Pharmacy
• Administrative pharmacy
Academic pharmacists educate, train, assess and develop pharmacy students, pre-registration trainees, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.
They will use and apply pharmacy knowledge and expertise to teach the next generation of pharmacists through a variety of teaching methods.
Working alongside the wider educational team, they update the degree programme and develop learning material to reflect changes in education and practice.
Academics also offer general support to students and are often viewed as role models and mentors.
Academic pharmacists (APs) are also thought of as researchers, as the role usually involves conducting some form of research, e.g. in a science based area of practice, drug design or pharmacy services.
They collect evidence, analyse it and use this data to make improvements to medicines and patient’s health.
They are regarded as experts in their field of research and specialization.
APs publish their researches as papers, appear at conferences, inspire young people through their teaching, and even external examining.
They are the real life-long learners as part of 7 star pharmacists
These pharmacists would not have it any other way. The hours might be long but there are opportunities for career advancement, international working and potentially making a real difference to society.
In summary, APs learn, teach, do research and impact lives.
Academic pharmacists not only have highly regarded customary roles as lecturers and professors, some may decide to pursue senior management positions within the university and become heads of departments and schools.
Others may choose to act as consultants and senior advisors for local, regional, national, and international organisations and institutions, as well as governmental bodies.
Often they are at the cutting edge of the profession and are instrumental in influencing pharmacy development, policy, and practice.
Their depth and breadth of knowledge in terms of teaching, research and health care service and utilisation can lead to various opportunities within science as well as professional practice.
The career path for a non-practising pharmacist within universities tends to be to enter as a lecturer and move up to senior lecturer, reader and professor. This is UK and Nigerian or African model.
USA is from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to Professor
Establishing an international reputation for research and taking on external roles will help a pharmacist gain promotion in academia.
More Case stories
Jayne Lawrence, head of the pharmaceutical biophysics group at King’s College London, says she knew at the age of 16 she wanted to be a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry. She has now built a successful career in academia.
At King’s College, her research is focused on improving the delivery of low molecular weight drugs and biomolecules such as DNA and siRNA (short interfering RNA).
“Academia benefits from the insights a pharmacist brings around understanding the patient,” says Lawrence. “For example, by helping you think of the patient when you design a medicine.”
She says a pharmacist will consider how patients actually take their drugs, including how many shakes of the bottle they are likely to make when the label says shake well.
“This is important when designing a suspension formulation,” she says. “With an [older] patient who has limited swallowing reflex, or a patient who has had a stroke and cannot swallow, there is a need to develop a suitable liquid formulation. This knowledge is basic for a pharmacist and helps design suitable formulations.”
This is what I call translational and implementation research
Her advice to anyone interested in academia is to get a PhD while they are young and undertake at least one postdoctoral position.
Today, Lawrence sits on a number of national committees including the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences as vice chair, the UK and Ireland Controlled Release Society as treasurer and on the Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry’s Joint Neutron Group.
David Thurston, professor of drug discovery in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science and the Department of Pharmacy at King’s College London, focuses on the discovery of sequence-selective DNA-interactive agents as anticancer drugs and as chemical biology tools for the inhibition of transcription factors.
He has also been involved in the discovery of novel antibiotics and protein-protein interaction inhibitors, the development of novel bioanalytical methodologies and the study of personalised medicine.
David highlights the importance of selecting a research area you are passionate about
He has received funding from research councils and cancer charities and says that increasingly a university’s management will expect young lecturers to obtain funding and build up their research team.
“You can get promoted by demonstrating an ability to do this,” says Thurston. “You must be persistent to get the money you need, so choose an area you are passionate about. I’ve always loved medicinal chemistry.”
Thurston has formed and sold biotech companies. He co-founded the oncology biotech company Spirogen in 2000 acting as its chief strategy officer until 2011.
Forming private companies is allowed abroad but not so in Nigeria or Africa.
He has also written text books, including Chemistry and pharmacology of anticancer drugs, published by CRC Press.
Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu is Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience within the University College London UCL School of Pharmacy. She is also cofounder Chief Scientific Officer of Nanomerics Ltd, a specialty pharmaceutical company and spin out from UCL. Professor Uchegbu has won numerous prizes for her work including the UK’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills’ Women of Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007 and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Pharmaceutical Scientist of the Year Award in 2012.
She obtained her in B.Pharm in University of Benin, Msc Pharm Chem in Univ of Lagos before going to UK
Professor Uchegbu’s scientific achievements, over a career spanning over three decades, are world class. Her research in the Pharmaceutical Nanoscience group exploits fundamental physical chemistry principles in the fabrication of functional pharmaceutical nanoparticles – nanomedicines. Her team been successful in designing pharmaceutical nanosystems which deliver: genes and siRNA to tumours, peptides to the brain via the oral and intravenous routes and nanoparticles facilitate the oral absorption of hydrophobic drugs. Her team has amassed a critical level of intellectual property in this area and formed a commercial venture – Nanomerics (www.nanomerics.com) to exploit this intellectual property and translate the research into pharmaceutical products. Nanomerics recently licenced NM133 an ocular product to Iacta Pharmaceuticals and other licenses are currently in negotiation.
Professor Uchegbu has a huge track-record in winning major research grants, amounting to a total career funding of about £20 million. Since 1999 she has been awarded seven (7) Engineering and Physical SciencesResearch Council (EPSRC) project grants and 1 EPSRC programme grant; and over the past ten years.
Funmi Olopade is an expert in cancer risk assessment and individualized treatment for the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, having developed novel management strategies based on an understanding of the altered genes in individual patients. She stresses comprehensive risk reducing strategies and prevention in high-risk populations, as well as earlier detection through advanced imaging and genetic technologies.
She obtained her MBBS in University of Ibadan.
Olopade has received numerous honors and awards and is a recipient of the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist and Exceptional Mentor Award, an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and Officer of the Order of the Niger Award. Olopade is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She currently serves on the board of directors for the American Board of Internal Medicine, the National Cancer Advisory Board, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Cancer IQ. She served under Obama administration. She was recently awarded Dsc of University of Ibadan
Prof A. Sofowora
Before his demise, Prof. Sofowora was a member and chaired many reputable national and international organizations as an erudite scholar. A few of which are; WHO, OAU, UNDP, UNIDO, ECA, TCDC, where he has served as consultant among other international organizations on the development of traditional medicine and medicinal plants. His research interests in ethno-botanical surveys took him to several countries across the
globe with Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, Swaziland and Mozambique being a few of such places he visited. He was among the leading researchers who discovered Fagara, chewing stick for the management of sickle cell disease, which made him popular world-wide.
Prof. Sofowora had many scientific publications to his credit and was instrumental to the compilation of the first edition of the African Pharmacopeia. As Director, Drug Research Unit from 1972-1979, his contributions assisted the eventual transition of the Unit into a full-fledged autonomous Department in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife. A mentor of mentors, an accomplished scholar.
Prof A. Olaniyi
Ajibola A.Olaniyi was the first Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry to be so appointed in Nigeria. He served as the Foundation Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ibadan from 1983 to 1987 and retired after serving the University for 23 years as Professor and was appointed Emeritus Professor, University of Ibadan in 2011.
Professor Olaniyi has been very active as a leader in the field of Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance nationally and internationally. He served as a Member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Pharmacopoeia and Pharmaceutical Preparations; the Committee produced its first
edition of Nigerian Herbal Pharmacopoeia in 2011. He was one of the Experts invited by the WHO to establish Basic Tests needed for identification of some pharmaceutical substances and their dosage forms. He served on the WHO Expert Committee that produced the 31st Report of the Expert Committee– TRS no 790 of 1990.
His research has focused on chemistry of Nigerian Medicinal plants, Pharmaceutical quality
assurance and bioavailability studies on some Essential Drugs- these have yielded important
He has authored or co- authored some books used for teaching undergraduate and
postgraduate students in Nigeria and in some African countries, notably: Essential Medicinal
Chemistry (In its 3rd edition), Experimental Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Principles of Drug QualityAssurance and Pharmaceutical Analysis, which are like bibles of pharm chembooks in Nigeria and Africa
Iruka N Okeke uses bacterial genetics to study the molecular epidemiology, colonization, pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli and other enteric bacteria. This research informs diarrheal disease epidemiology, antimicrobial use and development, as well as vaccine development. She is particularly focused on pathogens that cause significant illness and death in West Africa. Okeke’s National Award-winning doctoral thesis demonstrated that a neglected category of diarrhea-causing bacteria – enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) – was the predominant cause of childhood diarrhea in south western Nigeria. She found that EAEC strains were genetically heterogeneous and that the existing molecular probe, whose efficacy had not previously been evaluated in Africa, lacked sensitivity. Her subsequent work has focused on identifying and characterizing virulence genes in this pathogen and other enteric bacteria, as well as in understanding their epidemiology in pathogens that cause disease.
She obtained her BPharm, Msc, and PhD in faculty of Pharmacy OAU.
Today, Okeke’s lab in Faculty of Pharmacy, Univ of Ibadan is one of the four most prominent groups studying EAEC worldwide. It is the one of the best molecular biology lab in West Africa.
An educator and advocate for microbiological sciences, her other Science and Technology academic work focuses on the application of microbiological and molecular sciences to health care and knowledge development in Africa.
She currently has 4 international grants which she oversees in Africa and globally
Chinedum Babalola – see my biography
• OAU faculty – all the Profs, and others
• Prof Uzochukwu on drug repurposing, drug design in silico etc
Benefits of Academic Pharmacy
Pharmacists must also be able to collaborate with national and international teams because it is hard to succeed in academic research on your own.
As pharmacists become more senior within academia they will often receive invitations to join interesting networks, attend international conferences and even be asked to give evidence to government committees.
I have a network of collaborators within and outside Nigeria
OAU (Bolaji, Olagunju, Olubiyi< Onyeji, Omoregbe etc) UI/UCH (several – within and outside Pharmacy – Falusi, Olaniyi, Okeke, Kotila, Falusi, Ayede, Ojengbede, Awolude ….) International – (Univ of Jenna, Germany, Howard Unicv, Univ of Chicago (of note is Prof Funmi Olopade – the world renown figure in breast cancer, South Africa, NEPAD, Tanzania etc) Non-academia – (NAFDAC, NAIP, USP, NIPRD etc) Example of multidisciplinary, muticentred research that made news recently on breast cancer: Inherited Breast Cancer in Nigerian Women Yonglan Zheng, Tom Walsh, Suleyman Gulsuner, Silvia Casadei, Ming K. Lee, Temidayo O. Ogundiran, Adeyinka Ademola, Adeyinka G. Falusi, Clement A. Adebamowo, Abideen O. Oluwasola† Adewumi Adeoye, Abayomi Odetunde, Chinedum P. Babalola, Oladosu A. Ojengbede, Stella Odedina, Imaria Anetor, Shengfeng Wang, Dezheng Huo, Toshio F. Yoshimatsu, Jing Zhang, Gabriela E.S. Felix, Mary-Claire King, and Olufunmilayo I. OlopadeYonglan Zheng, Shengfeng Wang, Dezheng Huo, Toshio F. Yoshimatsu, Jing Zhang, Gabriela E.S. Felix, and Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Tom Walsh, Suleyman Gulsuner, Silvia Casadei, Ming K. Lee, and Mary-Claire King, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Temidayo O. Ogundiran, Adeyinka Ademola, Adeyinka G. Falusi, Abideen O. Oluwasola, Adewumi Adeoye, Abayomi Odetunde, Chinedum P. Babalola, Oladosu A. Ojengbede, Stella Odedina, Imaria Anetor, University of Ibadan; Clement A. Adebamowo, Centre for Bioethics and Research, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria, and University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; and Gabriela E.S. Felix, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz and Universidade Federal da Bahia, Bahia, Brazil.Show Less Cases were 1,136 women with invasive breast cancer (mean age at diagnosis, 47.5 ± 11.5 years) ascertained in Ibadan, Nigeria. Among Nigerian women, one in eight cases of invasive breast cancer is a result of inherited mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, or TP53, and breast cancer risks associated with these genes are extremely high. Given limited resources, prevention and early detection services should be especially focused on these highest-risk women. Capacity building/Teaching Teaching can be fulfilling. Teaching has changed enormously over the years and we are excited by new methods around blended learning and the use of technology. We welcome the streaming of lectures, for example, and the virtual learning environments that help students improve their patient interaction skills. Now we focus on teaching and learning Active-based, outcome-based, team-based, integrated-based, Inter-professional learning systems all make teaching and learning more interesting, practical, innovative and less didactic A teacher, Dr Bond explains: “Universities are like businesses these days and there are clear expectations about what you should deliver in your teaching, research and outside of the institution where you get to mix with people who can make a difference”. Grants – see the case studies
Leaving legacies – through publications, books, etc
Mentoring – you can mould lives
Innovation, intellectual property– through research
Awards, recognition, prizes
Impacting lives within and outside the university – town and gown relationship
Academia is not an easy option for pharmacists — Shakesheff says 80% of a job in academia is around failure. “You might fail to get a grant or things will go wrong with your research, but the successes are fantastic and stay with you for your entire career,” he says.
But when you fail, you can get up and continue.
The workload in academia can be heavy so pharmacists must enjoy all parts of the job and have good time management skills.
How to get involved:
• Begin early to search yourself and know your interests, strengths and weaknesses
• Seek counsel
• Do not be emotional
• Study hard to be one of the best.
• OAU Ife is blessed to keep their best annually.
• Know and test other aspects of Pharmacy
• Look for opportunities within and outside Nigeria. Getting international experience is very important
• Have a role model
• Pray and ask God for guidance