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OWSD Symposium: Chrisland University VC, Prof Babalola reveals how she got $1 million grant for drug research
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Thu, 23 May 2024   ||   Nigeria,
 

The Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, Prof. Chinedum Peace Babalola, has revealed how she obtained an international grant of $1 million for drug research and development in Nigeria.

Babalola, who was the keynote speaker at a workshop and award-giving ceremony organized by Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) at the University of Ibadan on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, said collaboration is one of her secrets to success.

The professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacokinetics was speaking on Collaboration Outside Box as a subtheme of Building a Career Path in Academia: Guiding Principles for the Female Academic. In her discourse, Babalola told a large audience of academics and university staff that personal networking and professional collaboration are essential if women would build a successful career in the university system.

According to her, much of her success as an academic researcher and university administrator is tied to collaborations. From having her doctorate at 35 and becoming a professor at 45 to winning a foreign grant of $1 million for drug development in Africa, Babalola said networking and collaborations were her tools and ladder to getting to where she is today as a vice-chancellor of a private university.

“My second name is Collabo,” she stated. “Collaboration is what made me what I am. I don’t run alone, and I don’t do things alone. I’m not a loner…I’m always with people and working with people. I teach people how to collaborate better for higher heights…because that is who I am. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

The VC said the story of her life cannot be complete without the influence and help of mentors she acquired along the path of her professional career. She particularly highlighted Prof. Falusi whom she said mentored her and introduced her to Sickle Cell Foundation and pharmacogenetics as a course among other things. She mentioned several professors in Nigeria and abroad that held her hands to walk the tight rope of academic achievements.

  1. also revealed that she diversified from pharmchem to pharmacology and even to Pi – up to ethics with lots of publications on ethics – through her collaborations with key figures in the academic world and across numerous universities. At a point in her career, she stated that her mentors became her project collaborators.

“And so, I became a Pi…and sometimes I serve as co-Pi,” she recalled. “There was a time I wasn’t qualified to be the Pi and I asked Prof. Falusi to be the Pi. That’s why it’s good to have good mentors. Even though it was my proposal, I made her the Pi and functioned under her as the co-Pi…and we got it – we got $1 million that time. It’s not easy to get $1 million.

“This project – of building capacity for Africans to make their own drugs – is one million dollars. I wrote it for one year. And I had 29 co-investigators (collaborators) from all over the world. My legs would swell from lack of sleep in the night. That’s the toughest job that I ever did for one year – pursuing this $1 million grant! The competition was high but we won it and the $1 million was released to us…”

Prof. Babalola advised women to learn negotiation skills, overcome gender bias, have a support system, set realistic goals, and understand political dynamics. She also appreciated the Coordinator of OWSD Ibadan branch, Prof. Aina Adeogun, for the “energy and vibe” with which she is running the association. She thanked her for being a skilled leader and for becoming a great influencer of women in public life.

 

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