AIPMED

ANNALS OF IBADAN POSTGRADUATE MEDICINE

CHRONICLES OF MEDICAL HISTORY

PROFESSOR GILBERT OBIAFO ONUAGULUCHI: PIONEER IN BASIC AND CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY 

         O.S. Michael1 and Adelola Adeloye2

  1. Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  2. Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

SUMMARY

Professor Gilbert Obiafo Onuaguluchi (Licentiate, L.S.M, Nigeria 1951, B.Sc. in Physiology of the University of London 1955, MRCP Edin., FRFPS, Glasg., Ph.D. Glasg. 1962) was born on 01 January, 1927. He was appointed Senior Lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Ibadan and Consultant Physician, University College Hospital, Ibadan, in June 1962. He was the first African member of the academic staff of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He rose to the rank of Professor in May 1965. A rather obscure icon, this brief exposition on him was put together from diverse sources of writings on him found at the Aqueduct of Adeloye, the medical school at University of Nigeria Nsuka, and on the internet.

Correspondence

Dr. O.S. Michael

Department of Pharmacology and

Therapeutics,

University of Ibadan,

Nigeria

micobaro@gmail.com


Biography: Professor Onuaguluchi, Gilbert Obiafo was born on January 01 1927 at Awgu in Awgu, Enugu, Nigeria, the son of Daniel Ekekwetere and Beatrice Okwualaru (Ofoezie) Onuaguluchi. He attended the Denise Memorial Grammar school, Onitsha, from 1941 to 1944. Had his higher education at the Higher College, Yaba Lagos from 1945 to 1946. He attended Medical School, Yaba, from 1947 to 1948. From its inception to 1936, the Yaba Medical School’s curriculum involved a four-year medical course. The first one and a half years were devoted to basic sciences at Yaba Higher College. One year of pre-clinical studies at the medical school followed. Finally, a clinical course of one and a half years was spent at the African Hospital (presently General Hospital) Lagos. An examination for the medical assistant certificate was held at the end of the four-year training. The Yaba Medical School went through a lot of changes in curriculum and degrees awarded. Major challenges, including severe shortage of staff, made it difficult to attain the objectives for which the school was founded. In 1948 the government decided to shut the Yaba medical school and move the last batches of students to the newly founded medical school at Ibadan.

Professor Onuaguluchi was transferred along with others to the University College, Ibadan to complete necessary clinical postings, required by the Yaba curriculum to be registered as a medical practitioner in Nigeria. He completed his clinical postings at the Adeoyo State Hospital which served as the teaching hospital of the University College, Ibadan. He finished and was awarded the Licentiate of the School of Medicine (LSM), Nigeria in 1951. He was registered as a qualified medical doctor in June 1951. He was then posted by the Government to Northern Nigeria, where he worked as an Assistant Medical Officer at the Kano General Hospital. 

The Kano medical school started with twelve students in April 1955 with most of the students coming from Ilorin and Kaba provinces. The preclinical years were spent at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kano city. Physiology teachers included Dr W.E. Merret, who was Principal at Yaba, an English man called Dr Pollock and a Dr from Malta, Dr Zoreb. Professor Onuaguluchi was brought in as a teacher of physiology to augment physiology classes being delivered at that time by Dr Zoreb. Before then he was enrolled at the University of London for a B.Sc program in Physiology. Professor Onuaguluchi was seconded to the Infectious diseases hospital to assist with the teaching of Physiology in 1958. He thought physiology for three months before travelling to the United Kingdom for further studies. Professor Onuaguluchi attended the West London Hospital Medical School in 1955, Institute of Chest diseases, University of London, January to June 1956. He obtained the Bachelor of Science in physiology of the University of London in 1955. Professor Onuaguluchi taught Physiology at the Kano Medical School for three months before leaving for the United Kingdom to pursue a Ph.D program in Neuropharmacology in 1958. Not long after this, the Kano Medical School was closed in 1959.

His Doctoral training was done at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, from 1959 to 1961. He obtained the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Neuropharmacology, University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1962. Onuaguluchi returned to Nigeria to pick up the position of Senior Lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ibadan started in 1948 when the University College of Ibadan opened with the three faculties of Arts, science, and Medicine. On November 20, 1957, the University College Hospital, Ibadan was declared opened by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, with Professor Beatrice Joly, Foundation Professor and Dean of the faculty of Medicine overseeing the affairs of the Hospital. The Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics was founded in 1952. The department started with one teaching laboratory and two offices located at the main campus of the University. The first pharmacologist to arrive was Dr J.L. Broadbent, MD, who came from Leeds in 1951. He was based in the Department of Medicine but delivered all pharmacology lectures until 1956 when he was joined by Dr. H. Schnieden, MD. Schnieden was transferred from the Department of Physiology to assist Dr Broadbent in Pharmacology. Dr Dinah M. James was appointed in 1958 and succeeded Schnieden to become the first professor and head of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Ibadan in 1965. 

Professor Onuaguluchi was appointed Senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics University of Ibadan and Consultant Physician, University College Hospital Ibadan, in June 1962 to April 1965. He was the first African member of the academic staff of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He rose to the rank of Professor in May 1965 and was professor at UI until 1966 when he moved to the University of Nigeria, Enugu.