As an offshoot of the University of Nsukka, the University of Calabar started as a Campus in 1973/74 session with less than 200 students. However, the University of Calabar was accorded the status of a full-fledged University in October, 1976. At that initial stage, the available faculties were those of Arts, Sciences and Social Sciences. The College of Medical Sciences (originally MedicalSchool) was established in 1978/79 session with Professor A. O. Williams as the first Provost. Before the first batch of medical students were due to sit for Part 1 MBBCh (Basic Medical Science), the basic medical sciences Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology were granted recognition by the Nigerian Medical Council. In addition, Pharmacology Department was to handle the fourth year medical students after their basic medical science education was established and recognition granted by the Nigerian Medical Council.
As one of the departments in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences in MedicalSchool, University of Calabar, the Department of Pharmacology started functioning in 1978. Regular students who sat for and passed Part 1 MBBCh examination commenced lectures in pharmacology during 1980/1981 session – Clinical year 1. With the establishment of B.Sc. programme in Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, pharmacology courses for B.Sc basic medical sciences taught as from 1982/83 session to this class of students (in their third year) in addition to teaching fourth year medical students.
The Department of Pharmacology, UNICAL had a staff strength of seven members as of July, 1981; comprising of two academic staff and five non-academic staff. The then Head of Department was Dr. H. R Ansary (Lecturer 1), the other academic staff was Dr. Ekong I. E. Eta (Assistant Lecturer). However, by November 1981, the academic staff strength has increased to five with the employment of Dr. R. J. Akpaffiong (Lect. II), Dr. C. S. Bhatt (Lect. II) and Dr. Jones O. Akpan (Sen. Lect). Dr. Victor B. Braide (now a Professor of Pharmacology) came into the department initially as a Visiting Reader in the Department of Pharmacology for the 1982/83 Academic year. He was latter appointed as Senior lecturer in 1985. Three more academic staff joined the Department in 1983 and these were Dr. A. L. Inyang (Lect. II), Dr. A. R. Essien (Lecct. II) and Dr. (Mrs.) C. N. Datong (Assist. Lect.).
Poor working environment in the country and lack of incentive in the academia - which has characterized the education sector of Nigeria till date - resulted in the syndrome of ‘brain drain’ in the country and witnessed mass exodus of pharmacologists from the this Department and the country to greener pastures. Thus as of 1990/91, most of the pioneer academic staff have left the department. New staff were employed into the Department to replace those academic staff that have left; these included B. A. S. Lawal (as Graduate Assist., 1991), Dr. (Mrs.) C. C. Umotong (as Lect. II, 1992), Dr. (Mrs.) Grace A. Essiet (as Lect. II, 1992), Pius M. Udia (as Graduate Assist., 1993) and Dr. A. D. Essien (as Lect. II, 1999).
Heads of Department of Pharmacology from inception till date include Dr. H. R. Ansary (pioneer Head, 1979), Prof. J. O. Akpan (1981, 1989), Prof. V. B. Braide (1984, 1992, 1998 - 2007), Dr. Francis V. Udoh (2007 - 2009), Dr. B. A. S. Lawal (2009 - 2011), Dr. Pius M . Udia (2011 - Date). Technical staff and technologists in the laboratory of the Department from inception till date are Mr. Michael Ejah (Head Lab. Attendant, 1981), Mr. Marcus S. Inyang (as Lab. Assist, 1982; now Assist. Chief Tech.) Mr. Sunday E. Etuk (Lab. Technologist, 1983) and Mr. Nsikan S. Udombon (Chief Tech. 1984). Dr. Francis V. Udoh joined the Department as Senior Technologist in 1993, he was converted to academic staff as Lecturer II in the year 2000. At present, Dr. Francis V. Udoh is a Reader in Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology.
The programme of M.Sc. degree in Pharmacology was approved in 1989 with four students admitted in 1991/92 Academic session. Following the takeoff of M.Sc. programme, the Ph.D. programme in Pharmacology was approved in and commenced activity with two students in 2009/10 Academic session. Several students who graduated with M.Sc. degree in Pharmacology have been gainfully employed in different fields of endeavour while the first group of Ph.D. students have graduated successfully.