“I’m a perpetual student of life.”
Oludare Odumosu ’05 offered that self-description to explain how a student from Jos, Nigeria, got to an office overlooking Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, where he’s the business development manager for Iroko Pharmaceuticals.
Entering Calvin he wanted to be a doctor. Then, in the biology department, he met Professor Steve Matheson, who nurtured his interest in research and became his mentor. Together they researched cancer pathways at the Van Andel Institute.
“Dr. Matheson sparked the analytical, investigative knack in me,” Odumosu said. “That opened my world.”
The world opened further when he went to Ecuador on Professor Pete Tigchelaar’s “Exploring Medical Missions” interim.
“As we were leaving a hospital, one of the doctors ran to us to say that the medication we had just given them could not have been more perfectly timed. They were about to turn away a woman who needed that very medication because the hospital didn’t have it. I saw that small things, like getting the right pills to the right people at the right time, can be the difference between life and death. That sparked me to study public health.”
At Loma Linda University’s (Calif.) School of Public Health, Odumosu honed his analytical skills, pursuing a master’s focused on epidemiology and biostatistics—“the what, the why and the where of disease or health,” he explained.
“But I saw a disconnect between scientific research and the people who desperately need it. The impact of scientific innovations was minimal because there was too much focus on ‘science for the hospital’ and not enough on ‘science for the people.’”
So rather than pursing a PhD in public health, he moved to Loma Linda’s School of Medicine and earned his doctorate in biochemistry. His research and publications, especially on a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes, put the university’s lab “at the forefront of academic understanding” of the disease, according to his mentor there. At the same time, he and a colleague formed a public health consulting company for designing health care delivery systems. Among other projects, Odumosu met with Nigerian government officials about licensing a plant-based cholera vaccine developed in the Loma Linda lab.
After completing his PhD in 2011, he was headed to Harvard for postdoctoral work. Then Iroko called. The pharmaceutical company specializes in re-engineering a whole class of nonsteriodal, anti-inflammatory medication for improved efficacy with lower doses. Odumosu describes his job as “managing the critical interactions that support our drug product formulations and manufacturing processes.”
“I’ve studied public health policy and analyzed data on health and disease. I’ve worked in medical clinics. I’ve done bench research, from cloning to clinical trials. Now I’m learning business concepts that give me yet another window into health care. If our generation is depending on people like me to bridge the gap between the science of health care and the people, I must engage all the different camps that impact health care delivery.
“So what I have been doing, and what I’m doing now is gathering experience in the camps. That’s why I say I’m a student of life.”