30.05.2002 Feature Article

World-renowned Ghanaian nuclear medicine scientist passed on.

World-renowned Ghanaian nuclear medicine scientist passed on.
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Dr Menes Atipin Oheneba Owusu-Afriyie, nuclear physicist and attending clinical physicist at the Nuclear Medicine Department and Professor of Radiology at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York, U.S.A, died after a brief illness on April 9, 2002 at home in the Bronx, New York. He was 51 years old. Dr Owusu-Afriyie was born in Kumasi, a son of the late Atipinhene Nana Osei Kwabena. He attended Opoku Ware Secondary School and obtained GCE Advance Level Certificate. He was elected as the Senior School Prefect for the 1970/1971 academic year. Thereafter, he went to Germany and studied at the University of Bremen graduating with a Bachelors degree in nuclear physics and a Doctorate degree in nuclear medicine. After graduating, Dr Owusu-Afriyie accepted a teaching position at Simon Fraser University in Victoria, Canada as Assistant Professor of nuclear medicine. Oheneba immigrated to the USA in 1983 and was accepted into internship and residency program in nuclear medicine at Mount Sanai Hospital, NY. Soon after completion of his residency training in 1986 Oheneba accepted a position at Down-State University/Kings County Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. In 1993, Dr Owusu-Afriyie was invited to join the staff at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre (LIJMC) where remained until his untimely death. Dr Owusu-Afriyie was a Principal Investigator for FDA phase 11 trials in the USA and a Reviewer for the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. He was a world-renowned research scientist, an academician and a teacher specializing in brain, breast and parathyroid imaging and has written extensively on these subjects in various international journals and periodicals. Oheneba was also internationally renowned for his contribution to instrumentation in Medical Imaging; including medicine, medical ultrasound, computed tomography, mammography, and bone densitometry. He was appointed as a consultant to the International Atomic Energy Commission in the August of 2001. His appointment as a consultant to the United Nations on nuclear medicine arrived barely a week after his death. Oheneba was one of the leading favourites to be enstooled as Asantehene’s Atipinhene Stool reserved for the sons and grandsons of the occupants of the Golden Stool. The incumbent Atipihene died early this year. Oheneba devoted his time and energy to improve the lives of his community in the USA and Ghana. He was among a group of Ghanaian medical doctors in New York City that sent CT Scanner to a leading hospital in Ghanaian. He saw to the operation of the scanner and he supported a US citizen sent to Ghana to train some Ghanaians as technicians. He was the executive coordinator of the Otumfuo Fund- and not for profit, non-governmental organization established to improve the educational and health systems in Ghana. He was active member and participant in various Ghanaian social organizations in New York Metropolitan area. A celebration of the life of Oheneba was held in New York City on May 10, 2002. His many friends from all over the world and the medical community in New York City attended the services. The occasion was graced by the presence of the Vice President of Ghana-Honourable Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs-Honourable Alhaji Iddrisu Mustapha Ali, and Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Nations-Nana Effah-Apenteng and many other dignitaries from Ghana. Dr Christopher Palestro, Director of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at LIJMC, in his moving eulogy described Dr Owusu-Afriyie as an internationally renowned Scientist in Nuclear medicine whose expertise had been sought in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia. He said that Dr Owusu-Afriyie had presented many excellent papers at Society of Nuclear Medicine conferences and had authored over 100 innovative research papers. Equally moving were the tributes from Dr Ayane-Yeboah, Dr K Osei-Tutu, Dr Kofi Ellison and Dr Oheneba Boachie-Agyei about his academic achievements, selfless character and contribution to the Ghanaian community in the USA and Ghana. Dr Owusu-Afriyie is survived by his wife Beatrice, Jeese, a research scientist at Rockefellar University in NY, Julian, a pharmacy student at University of Buffalo, and Madonna, a high school student. Final funeral rites and burial will be in Kumasi, Ghana on June 8, 2002. Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.

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