February 3, 2000
Oklahoma Baptist University presented an honorary Doctor of Science degree to noted researcher Sunday O. Fadulu during the University's chapel service Feb 2.
Dr. Fadulu, professor of microbiology and chairman of the department of biology at Texas Southern University, is a 1964 OBU graduate. He recently received a patent for a drug treating sickle cell anemia.
Fadulu was presented the honorary doctorate during the University's annual African-American Heritage chapel service in Raley Chapel on the campus. Following the presentation, he presented the chapel address, recalling his experiences at the university and encouraging students to follow God's plan for their lives.
A native of Nigeria, Fadulu enrolled at OBU in 1961, after a Southern Baptist missionary encouraged him to travel to Oklahoma to complete his education. One of the first African students to pursue a degree in science at OBU, Fadulu was seeking to find a cure for sickle cell anemia, a disease which claimed the lives of two of his brothers.
"My father was a man who would never fail. He was so strong," Fadulu said in the chapel service. "The night my brother died, he had my brother in his arms, and I saw his face, and it said that he had failed. I remember the discouragement on his face. I said then that I would find a cure and to do that I would have to go to America."
Since that time, his work has proven that an extract of the African "chewing stick" reverses the sickling of red blood cells and provides protection from the disease. His discoveries have led to a medication for sickle cell anemia that has been through the first phases of Federal Food and Drug Administration approval.
Recently, Fadulu was awarded a NASA grant as a co-investigator in studying the role of microgravity in sickle cells. The award from the nation's space agency provided an ironic twist to Fadulu's experience. He told OBU students that he was taught that "the sky is the limit." He said having confidence in that approach helped him as he traveled across the world to study, and as he pursued research to fight a deadly disease.
"Whatever diseases are out there, we can fight and win," he said. "Pray for me and the work that I do."
Fadulu told the students he and his wife, Jacueline, married in 1968, had one of the first weddings in Raley Chapel. "All of this is not by chance. I think I am a good scientist. But I was once here (at the platform) and I was once where you are sitting.
"God has a purpose and a plan for everybody," he said. "When you are in the same place like I am, I want you to come back here and encourage the next generation."
Fadulu received a master's degree and Ph.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma. He has done postdoctoral research at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine.
He joined the Texas Southern University faculty in 1972. In 1978, he became associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and was named to his current position in 1983.
Approximately 1,800 people attended the chapel service, the first of OBU's spring semester.