Profiles / Voices

A Global Agenda!

Meet Dr. Chudy Nduaka, Associate Director of Clinical Development at Pfizer and the founder and president of The Africa Education Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in Africa. For Dr. Nduaka, science and philanthropy are virtually inseparable.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Dr. Nduaka completed his undergraduate coursework at Ahmadu Bello University before moving to the United States and earning a Masters Degree in Animal Science from Tuskegee University followed by a Ph.D in Pharmacology from Howard University.

Growing up, Dr. Nduaka was well aware of the importance of being properly educated. Both his father and mother (a veterinarian and nurse, respectively) emphasized the value of a good education and ensured that Dr. Nduaka and his siblings worked consistently toward achieving that goal. If you were to ask him in his youth about his career direction, Dr. Nduaka – a gifted actor and published author – would likely have told you that his “innate” propensity for the Arts would serve him well in the Humanities. But alas, it was his father whom he credits with steering him toward the sciences.

Dr. Nduaka speaks highly of his parents, both of whom died unfortunately due to a lack of access to proper health care facilities in their communities. They were champions of education in their community – putting not just their own children but several other children through school during their lifetimes. “He taught us,” he says of his father. “It was from him that I learned the passion of education and why it is important to have a good education.” Such commitment was evidence of his parents’ lifestyle of gratitude and charity. “My father definitely was a person that taught me how to give,” he says. And from that spirit of giving and compassion, Dr. Nduaka and his father founded The African Education Initiative. The original purpose of the program was to provide a global network wherein information and resources can reach places like Nigeria wherein resources and access to information and proper health care have historically been limited. The Africa Education Initiative provides schools with computers and other essentials to equip students and communities with the tools needed to be competitive.

Dr. Nduaka admits that being from Nigeria and having spent time in the U.S. enables him to be more sensitive to the needs of people living in developing countries – the challenges they face and the simple things we take for granted to which they may not have access. As Associate Director of Clinical Development at Pfizer, Dr. Nduaka helps to develop drugs that are important to the global community. He oversees large Phase Three Trials wherein he and his team are charged with the responsibility of management and monitoring various studies. They develop strategies on how to manage trials, and the best use of medicines being tested with the hope that consistent improvements will afford the drug the opportunity to go to market. Of the thousands of medicines that do undergo the testing process, very, very few ever make it to market. Still, Dr. Nduaka insists that he cannot separate the science from the philanthropy as it’s an extension of his work. “In philanthropy, I also, with the rest of my team, make medicines available to people that need them. Not just Pfizer, but all companies. They’re giving us their products to distribute to communities that need them.”

Part of what makes him a good scientist, he thinks, is his love for writing. In his youth, he was exposed to a great deal of good literature and recalls wanting to write like Chinua Achebe. In fact, he began the first draft on his 2008 novel, The Vapor of Life right after high school and did an edit and complete re-write a decade later after finding the manuscript tucked away in a box.

“Writing actually makes you a better scientist,” he says. “Because no matter what science you do, you’ve got to be able to communicate it to the audience, you know. A big part of science and research is communication, writing up what you have done. So just grooming that skill set has made me a better scientist.”

Dr. Nduaka’s first novel, The Vapor of Life is a pulp mystery that explores issues of human mortality based on life in Nigeria and the United States.