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Honorary degrees awarded today [Tuesday, July 18]

Press release issued: 18 July 2006

Bristol University is awarding honorary degrees to two prominent people at today’s degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building [Tuesday, July 18].

Bristol University is awarding honorary degrees to two prominent people at today’s degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building [Tuesday, July 18].

Professor Dora Akunyili, Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Laws at the 11.15 am ceremony.

Born in 1954, Dora was brought up in a village in Anambra State, Nigeria, she attended secondary school despite the disruption of Civil War. In 1973 she was awarded a Federal Government of Nigeria Undergraduate Scholarship, and chose to study pharmacy at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN.

After graduating she joined the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital as a Hospital Pharmacist. In 1981 she returned to university, gaining her PhD in 1985. In 1988 she became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of London, this was followed by work as Zonal Secretary for five provinces, covering projects funded by the Petroleum Special Trust Fund.

In 2001, Dora was asked by President Obasjano to take on the role of Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control. Dora would have responsibility for turning the Agency into an effective food and drug regulation with emphasis on the eradication of fake and counterfeit drugs and other regulated products.

A World Health Organisation survey had found that more than half the drugs on sale in Nigeria were counterfeit or sub-standard. Nigerian hospitals were using fake and contaminated drips, surgeons were using fake adrenalin to re-start the heart. Many patients were fighting killer diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis with fake drugs packaged to look like the real drug. Her own sister died from what Dora is convinced were fake insulin and fake antibiotics.

Dora succeeded in transforming the Agency. She closed down an open-air medicines market in Kano for three months to enable officers to confiscate £140,000 worth of fake drugs. She also began to prosecute importers of fake drugs.  She appointed a new team of inspectors and pharmacists and upgraded the Agency’s premises and laboratories. However the counterfeiters fought back, burning their offices, vandalising their laboratories and threatening the lives of her and her family.

Dora has saved countless lives, since her appointment there has been a 50 per cent reduction in the quantity of fake drugs on the market thanks to her fearless campaign.

Professor Sir John Enderby, President, Institute of Physics and Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Science at the 2.30 pm ceremony.

Born in 1931 in Lincolnshire after finishing school in Chester John obtained a Teacher’s Certificate with Distinction at Westminster College London, winning the College’s Wright Prize in 1953. He graduated from Birkbeck College with a first-class honours degree in Physics in 1957 and obtained his PhD in 1962.

Following university, he lectured from 1957 to 1960 beginning in Huddersfield, later moving to Sheffield starting as a lecturer then reader. He then moved to Leicester taking up the position of Professor then Head of Department. In 1976, he was appointed as Chair at the University of Bristol and was Head of Department from 1981 until 1994.

Central to his research career, resulting in 200 scientific papers, are neutrons. His realised early on that these tiny particles, when generated in beams from nuclear reactors, can be used as a clean probe to explore the structure of matter in its various condensed states.

In 1985 John took leave to be Directeur-Adjoint of the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble – the premier neutron beam facility.

He has received a series of honours, in 1985 John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1997 he was awarded a CBE, and in 2004 came a knighthood. Since 2004 he has been President of the Institute of Physics.

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