By S. PAUL BRYAN
Bow-tied Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Reginald N. Oputa shows his kindness with a welcoming handshake and a smile.
Dr. Oputa, a Nigerian endocrinologist, is enjoying his tenure in Arizona and says he’s looking forward to his upcoming lecture on diabetes.
He will discuss “Diabetes Mellitus: A Global Epidemic with a Potential Solution” on April 26 at 6 p.m. at the PCC District Office Community Board Room, C-105, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.
Oputa speaks highly of Pima Community College and Tucson.
“Pima College is a great institution,” he said. “I am happy to be here and very grateful for the people here who have assisted me in so many ways. And the weather, it is beautiful.”
The Fulbright Scholar Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
“Having Dr. Oputa here has been a wonderful experience,” said Mary Beth Ginter, an academic dean at West Campus.
“I helped write the grant that brought Dr. Oputa here,” she added. “I believe, in this society, it’s very important to try and internationalize the PCC campus.”
Oputa was thrilled the Fulbright program allowed him to bring his wife , Prisca, and two of his five children with him from Nigeria in January.
His wife will remain with him until his residency ends in June, but his two children had to return home for school.
During the residency, Oputa has made presentations and engaged with faculty of the University of Arizona School of Medicine and School of Public Health.
He also works to promote civic diplomacy and outreach, and has participated in the PCC Faculty Senate.
Oputa is a consultant physician and a lecturer at the College of Medical Sciences at Imo State University in Nigeria.
He has spent his lifetime working in medicine and was a member of the Nigerian military, predominantly working to assist both his community and the world in the areas of HIV and diabetes.
His work on the HIV epidemic in Uganda and Nigeria provided both knowledge and insight.
“As a colonel in the Nigerian military, I worked with members of the U.S. Defense Department,” Oputa said. “We were able to build an infectious disease institute in Uganda and we went from three to over 100 clinics in Nigeria.”
Working with Americans also exposed Oputa to U.S. culture.
He retired from the military as a colonel in 2006 and continued his research and work in medicine.
Along with his medical degree, he earned a master of science in chemical pathology and is a fellow and vice president of the Endocrine and Metabolism Society of Nigeria.
Oputa’s current research explores the relationship between peptides and the duration of diabetes mellitus. His latest study, released in January, was conducted at the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, located in southeast Nigeria.
The objective of the study was to evaluate any connections between C-peptide estimation and important variables in the management of diabetes.
The variables include the duration of illness, blood pressure, body mass index, age and gender.
The study, the first of its kind at the Federal Medical Center, concluded that C-peptide values decrease as the duration of diabetes increases.
It also found that obese diabetes patients have higher C-peptide values than non-obese patients, suggesting a greater degree of insulin resistance among obese patients.
Taking care of one’s self is the best form of preventative care, Oputa stressed.
“I believe that self management is key,” he said. “Ninety percent of diabetes patients are type 2. They should focus on healthy living.”
Reading plays a significant role in the doctor’s life. He speaks excitedly of books that have made an impact on him.
“Obama’s two books were important to me,” he said. “Those books show the beauty of American culture.”
He is currently reading “Empire Falls” by Richard Russo.
“It shows me an example of the American life … very interesting,” he said.
The Billy Graham book “Death and the Life After” was another important book in his life.
Although born into a Roman Catholic belief system, Oputa became a born-again Christian after meeting his wife in 1988 and choosing to follow her faith. He now considers himself to be a Pentecostal Christian.
“God is for everyone,” Oputa said.
In his free time, Oputa enjoys playing squash. Along with his wife, he is also an active member of Siloam Freeway Church in Tucson.
“My belief is anyone who is living a good life will have a meeting with God,” he said.
Oputa is quick to share his goals related to his work with diabetes.
“My primary goal is to have well informed, educated people,” he said.