The popular saying that “great men are not born great, they grow great” accurately describes a man who is exhibiting the lifestyle of a legend. Professor Tomori’s name will always be written down amongst those who championed the long fight against poliomyelitis virus in Nigeria since it was first reported in 1996.
Currently, the Chairman of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19 in Nigeria and the immediate-past president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Tomori was appointed as the Regional Virologist for the WHO Africa Region in 1994 where he set up the African Regional Polio Laboratory Network, a first-of-its-kind system of laboratories that provided diagnostic expertise to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). He was subsequently appointed as the chairman of the Nigeria Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization in 2004 to date, a high-stakes role where he was charged with ensuring Nigeria defeats polio at all costs.
Oyewale Tomori was born 3 February 1946 in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. He received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as well as a Doctorate degree and Ph.D in Virology from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria where he was appointed professor of Virology in 1981, the same year he received the United State of America Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service Certificate for contributions to Lassa Fever Research. Three years (1984) after his appointment as a professor of virology, he was appointed the Head of the Department of Virology.
At the University of Ibadan, Tomori’s research interest focused on viral infections including Ebola Hemorrhagic fever, Yellow fever and Lassa fever. He served as the Regional Virologist for the World Health Organization Africa Region (1994-2004) before he was appointed as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Redeemer’s University, Nigeria, a tenure that ended in 2011.
This Virology Expert was a member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), Polio Research Committee (PRC), International Consortium on Anti-Virals (ICAV), International Steering Committee, Nigeria Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization and Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization. He is a fellow of the Academy of Science of Nigeria, College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria, Royal College of Pathologists of the United Kingdom and the International member of the United States National Academy of Medicine.
This Educational Administrator is a recipient of several awards and fellow of many international academic organizations. Some of which includes: Nigeria National Order of Merit (NNOM) (2002), the country’s highest award for academic excellence and the Nigeria National Ministry of Science and Technology Merit Award for excellence in medical research. He was also accorded the United State of America Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service’s Certificate.
In 1981, this Professor of Virology was recognized by the American CDC, with the US’ Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service Certificate for contribution to Lassa Fever Research. In 1990, he was awarded the Nigeria National Ministry of Science and Technology Merit Award for excellence in medical research and in 2002, the Nigerian National Order of Merit, (NNOM), the country’s highest award for academic and intellectual attainment and national development was given to this great professor.
Tomori’s research interests include a wide range of human viruses, and zoonotic and veterinary viruses including the Yellow fever virus, the Lassa fever virus, the poliomyelitis virus, the measles virus, the Ebola virus and a hitherto unknown virus, the Orungo virus, which he elucidated the properties of and registered with the International Committee of Virus Taxonomy. This discovery is considered an outstanding contribution to the discipline of virology. Prof. Tomori is recognized as one of Africa’s frontline Lassa fever researchers.