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Dreams Realized: O.O. Dipeolu and Nelson Mandela

American University of Antigua College of Medicine is proud of its dedicated administrators, faculty, and students. In every way possible, the college provides services throughout the community.

O.O.Dipeolu of Abeokuta, Nigeria, has over 35 years of teaching and community service experiences. When Nelson Mandela was the Chancellor, University of the North in South Africa, he personally selected Dr. Dipeolu, a close confidant, as his Vice Chancellor/Principal and CEO.

He possesses a D.V.M. and Ph.D. Currently, he is Professor of Microbiology at AUA and Chair of Research and Continuing Education Committee. Two pre-AUA accomplishments include an African Academy of Sciences Fellow and a Fulbright Award recipient.

His life long dream, to set up a research center and lab to study and advance global health, is now a reality. On November 12, 2004, The Center for Tropical Diseases and International Travel Medicine at AUA opened its door with Dr. Dipeolu as Director. Another milestone for the center was when the British High Commission made a significant donation and commemorated the occasion with a signing ceremony in January 2005. The mission of the center is to advance global health and his work requires travel, research, the lecture circuit, and scientific presentations to a variety of organizations around the world. His goals are to establish academic collaborations with other medical institutes and/or government agencies.

Tropical or infectious diseases, which cause innumerable disabilities and deaths each year, are the second leading cause of death. The current remedies, treatments, and vaccines are either toxic or quasi-effective in combating such diseases. Given how easy it is to travel, coupled with the unfortunate and inevitable evolution and mutation of emergent and/or recurring diseases, Dr. Dipeolu feels that we have in no way seen or experienced the full effect of diseases. The global economy, trade and workforce, life expectancy, family structure, and “lost orphaned generation” are affected.

The Center and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) are in the process of putting together a research collaboration. The focus is disease prevention and control with the end result whereby local farmers will have acquired the knowledge and skills to prevent and eliminate, on a collective level, diseases in their home and family environments.

Another collaborative effort, also in the final stages of arrangements, is with the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. The focus of research is Dengue fever in the Caribbean and how it is transmitted. The Tropical Medicine Faculty, Mahidol University, the leading WHO Collaborating Center on Dengue fever, is the producer of the only vaccine against Dengue fever currently tested worldwide by WHO.

Moving forward, the Center will be participating in such projects as:

Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference, May 15-17, 2006, at the Jolly Beach Resort Antigua. Dr. Dipeolu will present a paper on May 17, entitled “Impact of Stray Dogs on Public Health”; Caribbean Environmental Forum & Exhibition scheduled, June 5-9, 2006 in Antigua. The Center will be part of panel discussion on Bird Flu and Dr. Dipeolu will present a paper entitled ” The Environment and Infectious Diseases in Antigua”; 12th International Conference of Infectious Diseases, June 12 – 15, 2006, in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Dipeolu will present a paper entitled “Influence of Agricultural and Social Activities on Susceptibility of Agricultural Workers to Infectious Diseases in Antigua.

American University of Antigua College of Medicine is fortunate that it is constantly involved in collaborative initiatives. For faculty, the University has one of the most extensive visiting professor programs of Caribbean medical schools. For students, there are many ways in which they can participate in the community. Such service-oriented programs and projects include raising money and making such donations to various local organizations. Some examples of student-sponsored and/or student government activities have included initiatives for the Sunshine Girls Home, an AIDS Awareness program at a local school, Blood Drives in connection with Lifeline, a walk-a-thon for 3-H, and donations to Breast Friends of Antigua.

We end where we began: dreams realized by dedication, desire, drive, and perseverance.