For Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe at 78 —Olufemi Ogundipe


On Sunday , July 17, 2011, Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe will turn 78 years of age and I join with all who read my e-mails to wish him a most joyous anniversary.


I first met Professor Akinkugbe at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Department of Medicine. The year was 1975. He was returning home from a year sabbatical spent at the Harvard Medical school in Boston and I had earlier arrived from a fellowship in Endocrinology at the University of California, Los Angeles . I spent a fleetingly short time working under him as a senior registrar in the Hypertension Clinic. I later moved on to the Department of Pathology also for a short spell . Thereafter , I took up a position as a physician at the near-by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan before returning to California, in the United States in 1989.


I did not set my eyes on him until a week ago in Chicago where he had come to attend the annual meeting of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas and to share with us his rich and challenging life in the vineyards of medical education and university administration in Nigeria. He was part of a most exciting living history. I lost no time in commenting on how healthy he looked, tall lanky and young-looking, despite his advancing years and the rather tough life in the rough terrain of our home country Nigeria. I asked him for his secret to good health and longevity, Ever so modest, he demurred . I believe he would be a great study. So I have now decided to tease him by deliberately sending out an excellent recent medical article , titled ‘ Sirtuins , Aging, and Medicine. An eminent scholar that he is, i would not in the least be surprised if he already knew the epochal work going on in the field of aging. I am respectfully asking my fellow Columbian ( College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University ) Dr Olakunle Akinboboye to be sure Professor Akinkugbe gets this e-mail.


Now a few words about Balliol College Oxford, a most venerable and eminently academic Oxford College. It was there that Ladipo Akinkugbe honed his skills in the knowledge and investigation of hypertension , working under the icon and legend, Sir George Pickering. I just wonder if Sir George and his student, Oladipo knew then that hypertension would today be one of the pandemics of our time, the other two being obesity and type 2 diabetes. As a joyous provocateur, I cannot resist bringing to Professor Akinkugbe attention the argument for and against sodium restriction in managing hypertension . I believe he would be very happy to share his views with this former senior registrar in his clinic. To shed more light on Balliol College of Akinkugbe’s time, I will like to note that Baruch Blumberg , MD ( Columbia University) received his D.Phil in Biochemistry at Balliol . He discovered the hepatitis B virus and with another researcher developed the hepatitis vaccine , the very first anti-cancer vaccine . He won a Nobel prize for Medicine and Physiology .


I humbly request you all to join me in singing to Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe the ‘ Psalm of Life,’ a poem written by the New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . I will quote a few of the verses :


Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime ,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints upon the sands of time;


Footprints, that perhaps another .

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother

Seeing , shall take heart again.


Let us then be up and doing

With a heart for any fate ;

Still achieving, still pursuing

Learn to labor and to wait.”


To my senior in the medical profession, I say to you, sir, that you have indeed left ” Footprints and Footpaths” upon the sands of time .

They will serve as beacons lighting the way for generations yet to come.


Have a most joyous birthday anniversary.


—Dr. Ogundipe lives in the US

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