North Central College - Naperville, IL

Cancer researcher, MacArthur fellow to deliver Commencement address

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

June 1, 2010—An internationally respected cancer researcher and MacArthur fellow will deliver the Commencement address at North Central College's 145th graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 12.

Dr. Olufunmilayo “Funmi” Olopade, Associate Dean for Global Health and Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, will address North Central’s class of 2010.

The class features approximately 600 undergraduate and 120 graduate students and includes a National Science Foundation fellow, a Dunn fellow, 31 College Scholars, 25 academic all-conference honorees and numerous members of national honor societies and recipients of other student-athlete awards. Graduates hail from 19 different states and territories and 13 different countries.

The Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12, is expected to draw an audience of more than 5,000 parents, alumni and other visitors to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, 455 S. Brainard St., Naperville.

Olopade and Patrick Joseph Lucey, Wisconsin’s 38th governor, will be awarded honorary doctoral degrees during the Commencement ceremony.

As a physician and scientist, Olopade epitomizes the “bench to bedside” philosophy in her application of scientific discoveries to clinical medicine. As an internationally recognized hematologist/oncologist, Olopade specializes in cancer risk assessment, prevention, early detection and treatment of aggressive breast cancer that disproportionately affects young women.

“Part of our work as scientists is not only to study biology and science, but also to engage society,” Olopade says. “If we can’t translate our research to help young people, then why are we doing the work?”

Olopade received her medical degree with distinction from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. She came to the United States as a resident in internal medicine at Cook County Hospital, Chicago, where she was named chief medical resident. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship training in the Section of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago and became founding director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health in 1992. In addition, Olopade collaborates with clinicians and scientists around the world to reduce the global burden of cancer and improve health in resource-poor nations.

On June 1, Olopade received an honorary doctoral degree at Princeton University during that school’s 263rd commencement exercises. At the University of Chicago, she is director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and director of the hematology and oncology fellowship program. She also leads the University of Chicago Medical Center's Cancer Risk Clinic.

Olopade's research has revealed that an aggressive variation of breast cancer occurs more frequently and at an earlier age in women of African ancestry than in Caucasian women, and she has gained insights in understanding the disease and its resistance to certain drugs.

Lucey was one of the architects of the rise of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and served as party chair in 1960, when John F. Kennedy won the crucial Wisconsin primary with Lucey's support. Lucey was elected governor in 1970—becoming the first governor elected to a four-year term—and reelected in 1974. He was a member of the National Governors' Conference Executive Committee from 1973 to 1974. He resigned as governor in 1977 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, a position he held until 1979. He was the vice presidential running mate for John Anderson's 1980 independent presidential campaign.

In addition to the merger creating the University of Wisconsin system, Lucey’s tenure as governor included numerous public policy breakthroughs relating to energy policy, the state’s business and tax climate, conservation and the organization of state government. Since his retirement from politics, Lucey has embarked on a successful career as a business consultant.

For more information about Commencement activities, visit or contact the North Central College Office of Alumni Relations at 630-637-5200.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in Naperville, Ill., North Central is recognized as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, which cites it as one of the top six schools in the Midwest for “Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching”; as “a college for high-achieving students” by Peterson’s Competitive Colleges; and as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by Forbes. For more information about North Central College visit