By The Christian Recorder
Rev. Dr. Almyra Oveta Fuller was born on August 31, 1955, in Mebane, North Carolina. Deborah Woods Fuller, her mother was a teacher and her father Herbert R. Fuller managed the family farm. Fuller grew up near Yanceyville, North Carolina. As a child biology intrigued her at an early age. She was amazed at how her grandmother recovered quickly from being bitten by a water moccasin after receiving antivenin, which was an antidote for snake venom. Although her grandmother’s snake bite contribute to her appreciation for biology, there were also two notable biology teachers, Ms. Elam and Mr. Majette who inspired her as well. After graduating from high school, she earned an Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a BA in biology in 1977. Fuller continued her education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to complete her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology in 1983.
In 1983, Fuller attended the University of Chicago for a postdoctoral fellowship. In 1988, she became an assistant professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School; in 1995, she was promoted to associate professor with tenure. She also served as a faculty associate for the Center for Global Health, STEM Initiative, and African Studies Center at the University of Michigan. She is currently the associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Medical School and faculty in the STEM Initiative of African Studies at the University of Michigan.
In 1983, she was awarded the National Technical Association Service Award, Anna Fund Postdoctoral Award, and Thornton Professional Achievement Award. In 1987, she was also awarded the Ford Foundation fellowship and in 1992 she was awarded the NSF Career Advancement Award. Fuller’s other awards include the Woman of the Year in Human Relations by the University of Michigan Task Force (1998) her service with the Distinguished Service Award in Microbiology and Ministry from the Missions Society, AME, the Robert Smith Community Service “Humanitarian Award,” and her biography was highlighted in “Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century” (Kessler, Kidd, and Morin, Oryx Press, Phoenix, AZ, 1996). In 2012, she received a Fulbright US Scholar Program award. In January 2013, she began nine months of research in the Copperbelt region in Zambia in which her work focused on bringing biomedical information into communities through local religious leaders. During a sabbatical in 2006, Dr.Fuller traveled to several African nations, including Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia to help members of the clergy to better understand the science behind HIV and AIDS and how to help educate their congregations on the impact of AIDS impacts in their communities. Dr. Fuller most recently served on the Vaccine and Biological Products Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration whose most recent work was the emergency release of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fuller was an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Michigan Annual Conference and served as an adjunct faculty member at Payne Theological Seminary. She also served for several years as a columnist for The Christian Recorder writing a column “Getting to Zero” advocating for HIV/AIDS awareness and programs throughout the AME Church.
Fuller died on November 18, 2022, after a brief non-COVID-related illness. Funeral arrangements are forthcoming. Please keep the family in prayer.
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