Nelson Oyesiku: Cheers to Nigeria’s Global Giant in Neurology

Dr. Nelson Oyesiku

Ahmed Abdul-Razaq

Next time anyone tells you just how terrible the image of your country Nigeria is out there, there are ample reasons for you to insist that that was just half the story — or, more aptly, a negative and malicious slant of the narrative. In reality, Nigeria has given to the world some of the best brains that have ever lived.

One of such brains is Prof. Nelson Mobolanle Oyesiku, the President-elect of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies and of the best medical practitioners ever known to the United States of America.

Prof Oyesiku has done so well for himself, the black race, and humanity that he and his wife, Lola, would on November 18 be decorated as Baa ‘Segun-Alabe (Surgeon-in-Chief) and Erelu Baa ‘Segun-Alabe (Queen Consort of the Surgeon-in-Chief) of Egbaland by the paramount ruler of Egbaland Oba Michael Adedotun Gbadebo (Okukenu IV) in Abeokuta, the capital city of Nigeria’s south western Ogun State. That is in honour of the Oyesikus’ international exploit as good ambassadors of the community.

A native of Abeokuta, Prof Oyesiku was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He is the second child and first son of Nelson and Margaret Oyesiku. He grew up in the Nigeria’s port city Apapa where he attended the elite Corona School.

His journey to fame as a neurosurgeon started from childhood. The young Nelson II became influenced by the TV series Ben Casey which kindled his love for the neurosciences. He went on to St. Gregory’s College Lagos where he left an enduring and stellar academic record. He later attended medical school at the University of Ibadan where he was inspired by the major faculty figures in neurology and neurosurgery, and was active in the major clubs and fraternities. After graduation he interned at the General Hospital, Lagos, before observing the mandatory national youth service.

He obtained a Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the University of London in the MSc Occ Med programme and then emigrated to the USA for neurosurgical training. He completed his surgery Internship at the University of Connecticut-Hartford Hospital, and obtained his neurosurgical training at Emory University, Atlanta. During his residency training, Oyesiku completed a PhD (Neuroscience) in parallel, an unusual and remarkable accomplishment. He was, upon completion of his PhD, appointed to the faculty where he serves as Professor of Neurological Surgery and Medicine (Endocrinology), the Al Lerner Chair in Neurosurgery, Vice-Chairman, Dept of Neurological Surgery and Director of the Neurosurgical Residency Program.

Oyesiku is co-director of the Emory Pituitary Centre and has one of the most active neurosurgical practices in the country devoted to pituitary surgery. He is board-certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He received the National Institute of Health (NIH) K08 Award and Faculty Development Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a recipient of an NIH R01 award and PI of the R25 NIH training grant for Neurosurgery.

Oyesiku’s laboratory is focused on the molecular pathogenesis of pituitary adenomas. He has served Emory University on various committees and on several state, regional, national and international committees for all the major neurosurgical organisations. He has served on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He was on the Residency Review Committee of Neurosurgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has served on its Board of Governors.

He has been President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and served on the Executive Committee of the CNS. He has served as Secretary/Treasurer and President of the Georgia Neurosurgical Society, President of the Society of University Neurosurgeons, and Vice-President of the American Academy of neurological Surgeons. He is chair of the Neuroendocrine Committee of the WFNS and is President of the International Society of Pituitary Surgeons. He was Scientific Programme Co-Chair for the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) 2009 meeting. He is AANS Delegate to the WFNS and serves on the Executive Committee. He is on the board of directors of the FIENS. Dr Oyesiku has served on several NIH Study Sections.

He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurosurgical Surgeons which publishes research on clinical and experimental neurosurgery, and he is a reviewer for several journals. He has authored over 150 scientific articles and book chapters.

Oyesiku has been selected by his peers as one of The Best Doctors in America and was selected by the Consumer Research Council of America as one of America’s Top Surgeons. He is named in Marquis Who’s Who in America. He is a member of the Honour Medical Society – Alpha Omega Alpha. He was recently awarded the “Gentle Giant Award” for his services to Pituitary Surgery and Medicine. He has been visiting professor at several departments of neurosurgery in the United States and world-wide.

Omolola, his wife, is no less an achiever. Omolola Mojisola Oyesiku was born in Lagos to the late Chief Ayodele Afolabi and Mrs. Comfort Oluremi Afolabi (née Owolabi). Her late father was the Osi Mayegun of Ile Ife and her mother is from Ago Owu, Ile Lowo, in Abeokuta. She is the second of five children.

She attended New Era Girls Secondary School in Surulere, Lagos. She bagged a nursing degree from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital School of Nursing in Lagos. After graduation, she worked as a nurse at the Lagos General Hospital. Omolola then trained as a Certified Midwife at the Lagos Island Maternity School of Midwifery. She worked at the Royal Free Hospital in London, UK, and is certified by the Nursing Council of England and Wales.

Since emigrating to the US, Omolola has held nursing positions in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. She is a Georgia board-certified Registered Nurse and Certified Nurse-Midwife with over 30 years of experience delivering high-quality care to patients in Obstetrics and High Risk Maternal-Fetal units. She is currently on staff at Emory Decatur Hospital.

Blessed with three children — Angela, Linda and Nelson III —, the great couple would lead family and friends to their Abeokuta root on Monday to be honoured by their community for a life of service to humanity.

–––Abdul-Razaq writes from Lagos.