A tribute to Professor Ogobara Doumbo

The fifth plenary of the Forum opened with a tribute to a distinguished and much-loved researcher, Professor Ogobara Doumbo, who died in June this year aged 62.

He was a Malian medical researcher at the University of Mali and a global leader in malaria research. Speaking from the Chair, Charles Mgone said that many present at the meeting would have known ‘Ogo’ personally and described him as ‘one of the biggest supporters of capacity development’. He introduced Professor Doumbo’s friend and colleague Abdoulaye Djimdé who paid tribute to him as ‘a scientist, teacher, supervisor, trainer, humanitarian, father and a good man’.

Professor Djimdé told us of Ogobara Doumbo’s beginnings in the Dogon region of Mali. After becoming a medical student, he held village conferences each time he returned home, inspiring many young people also to work in health. Later on, he specialised in malaria research and conducted many studies at different sites across Mali, including antimalarial drug trials. He contributed to over 400 scientific publications and was the recipient of many awards. In 1992, he was one of the founders of the Malaria Research and Training Center in Bamako.

Professor Doumbo wanted to see African leadership in research and insisted on Malians being principal investigators in many studies. He was also concerned that communities participating in research should know some benefit and that researchers should leave something behind; he was responsible for the building of local facilities, including a school. His work as a humanitarian also included representing the international NGO Santé Sud in Mali and he helped develop the country’s ‘bush doctor’ programme.

An interesting part of the presentation was a slide featuring a ‘family tree’ of the generations of researchers who have followed on from Ogobara Doumbo, each generation in time also assuming the responsibility of training the next. ‘We are now on to the F5 generation!’ said Professor Djimdé, who described him as a superb leader and loved by his co-workers to whom he was also a mentor and a father figure. He has left a legacy of courage, determination, integrity, generosity and humility.

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