Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine and of physical medicine and rehabilitation, was awarded the prestigious Michigan Medicine Alumni Society’s Early Distinguished Career Award.
Dr. Okanlami, who is also the director of medical student programs in the Medical School’s Office for Health Equity and Inclusion and director of Michigan Medicine’s Adaptive Sports: Michigan Center for Human Athletic Medicine and Performance, accepted the award during the Medical School Reunion in October.
Born in Nigeria, he attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts before earning his undergraduate degree from Stanford University. After completing medical school at U-M in 2011, he matched into the Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program at Yale University. In his third year, he acquired a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him from the chest down. Through surgeries and intense rehabilitation, he regained some motor function and went on to earn a master’s in engineering, science, and technology entrepreneurship from the University of Notre Dame. He completed a family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, and was appointed to the St. Joseph County Board of Health by Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Dr. Okanlami is vice president of the River City Challenged Athletes, a South Bend nonprofit supporting sports programs for people with disabilities. He is currently growing similar opportunities at U-M as director of adaptive sports in the Michigan Center for Human Athletic Medicine and Performance (MCHAMP). His ultimate goal is to develop an elite, collegiate adaptive sports program at U-M. He was capital campaign chairman for St. Joseph County Clubhouse, a community organization for people with serious mental illness. He has given talks around the country on diversity, equity, and inclusion, addressing the importance of increasing the number of black male physicians, among other topics.
His catchphrase — “Disabusing Disability®” — demonstrates that disability is not inability, and he has partnered with Guardian Life as its spokesperson on a campaign spreading that message. Clinically, Dr. Okanlami provides full-spectrum family medicine at Briarwood Family Medicine, with a focus on disability health, and is a leader in the Department’s MDisability program. He works with all students, with an aim to encourage success among those underrepresented in medicine. He is an Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society member, a new board member of the Michigan Medicine Alumni Society and the proud father of an 8-year-old son, Alexander.
The Early Distinguished Career Award is presented to U-M Medical School alumni or faculty members in the initial 20 years of their career, this honor acknowledges the recipient’s excellence and exemplary achievement in medical education, research or patient care.
Congratulations, Dr. Okanlami!