Dr. A. Oveta Fuller was an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical School and served as ASC director in the 2016/2017 academic year after serving as both ASC associate director and co-coordinator of the STEM-Africa initiative for the previous two years. She received her B.A. in biology in 1977, Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1983, and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago.
As a virologist, her research focuses on early events of virus-cell interactions for Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. She worked with networks of the highest officials and leaders of religious organizations in Zambia, South Africa, and the USA in developing the Trusted Messenger Intervention program, which enhances effective HIV/AIDS prevention through information, education, and community engagement. As a J. William Fulbright Faculty Fellow, Dr. Fuller lived in the Southern African country of Zambia for most of 2013 to research the validity of the Trusted Messenger Intervention for HIV/AIDS prevention.
As a 2015-16 visiting professor in the Department of Sociology at Duke University, Dr. Fuller explored the use of networks in disease prevention. As an adjunct professor at Payne Theological Seminary (PTS), she taught a course for the Master of Divinity students that bridged the gap between science and community.
Dr. Fuller wrote a weekly column, “Getting to Zero,” for The Christian Recorder—the official African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church global publication that promotes wellness and provides essential insights for HIV/AIDS control and elimination.
Dr. Fuller was an inaugural member of the Rudi Ansbacher Women in Academic Medicine Leadership Program at the U-M Medical School and served as the faculty liaison for new and alums of Ford Fellows in the State of Michigan. She had received research and career awards from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State, among others. Her community service recognitions included the Robert Smith Humanitarian Award (2005, 2014), a Global Humanitarian Award (2014), and an Outstanding Service Award in Microbiology and Ministry (2004) from the AMEC.
In 2020, Dr. Fuller was a member of the FDA Advisory Committee and played a crucial role in the early days of companies seeking emergency use authorization for the COVID vaccines. Her meticulous work contributed to the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines. In January 2022, she received the Sarah Goddard Power Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the betterment of women through their leadership, scholarship, or other ways in their professional life. In the fall of 2022, she was the recipient of the Regents’ Award for Distinguished Public Service in recognition of her public service, teaching, research, and professional and academic expertise in virology and public health.
Dr. A. Oveta Fuller is survived by her husband, Dr. Jerry Caldwell, son Brian, and daughters Nikki and Maya. Dr. Fuller is dearly remembered by many, not only from members of the African Studies Center community but also from the broader community of the University of Michigan and African partners.