Lives of the fellows

Jacob Lifangi Ngu

b.8 October 1937 d.29 December 2008
MB BS Durham(1962) MRCP Edin(1965) MD(1969) FRCP Edin(1976) FRCP(1977)

Jacob Lifangi Ngu was head of the department and professor of medicine and nephrology at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, where he eventually became dean and then, vice chancellor.

Born in Kumba, in south west Cameroon, his father was Joseph Henry Ngu, a businessman. After attending St Joseph’s College in Sasse, Cameroon, he travelled to London, where he studied for a while before going to Durham University to read medicine. He qualified from Durham and the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1962 and proceeded to do house jobs at the RVI for a year.

From 1966 to 1968 he worked in Nigeria as senior registrar at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and then he moved to Tanzania as a lecturer in medicine at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, remaining there until 1970. Appointed assistant professor in the faculty of medicine and biomedical sciences of the University of Yaoundé in 1971, he became a professor three years later. The following year he was director of medical research and, in 1976, co-ordinator of the clinical division. For 18 years he was head of the department of medicine before being appointed dean in 1983 and vice-chancellor in 1985.

He published extensively, particularly on immunology, and made a significant contribution to research into onchocerciasis (‘river-blindness’) in Africa. As dean, he initiated significant reforms of the undergraduate teaching programme which won the medical school accreditation by the UK’s General Medical Council. He also personally devised the postgraduate programmes in several medical specialties. When he was vice-chancellor he placed great emphasis on the need for courses to offer students marketable skills and arranged that they should undergo part of their training in local businesses.

After retiring as vice-chancellor in 1990, he was appointed inspector general in charge of higher education by the Ministry of Education for three years. Other posts included working for the United Nations, the World Health Organization, membership of the EEC research committee on tropical health problems, membership of a World Bank Research programme in human reproduction and various international consultancies.

Outside of medicine, he was a keen tennis player.

In 1965, he married Kathleen née Blackett, the daughter of William Blackett. She is also a fellow of the RCP and a professor of cardiology. They had a son, Daryl and daughter, Denys. The family shared a devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. When he died, Kathleen and their children survived him.

RCP editor

[Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Obituaries - accessed 12 March 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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