Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream
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More About This Title Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream

English

From growing up in poverty to developing drugs that fight diabetes, seizures, and cancer, Dr. Frank L. Douglas has lived a life based on values, hard work, and self-control. Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream is a reflection on the events and people that made him into the man he is.
In 1963, the year of the murder of Medgar Evers, Civil Rights marches, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, twenty-year-old Douglas arrived in the United States. A Fulbright scholar from British Guiana, Douglas studied engineering at Lehigh University, received his Ph.D. and M.D. from Cornell University, and did his Residency in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. A curious and motivated young man from a colonial country struggling for independence, Douglas was shocked by the racism he received from white Americans and the cultural prejudice he received from black Americans. Struggling with his faith and identity, Douglas decided to control his own future through grit, hard work, and the road less travelled.
Intimate and honest, incisive and searching, Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream is a memoir of self-determination and blazing your own path in a narrow-minded world.

Defining Moments of a Free Man from A Black Stream chronicles the journey of a young black man growing up in poverty in a small South American country and rising to become one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists in the Pharmaceutical Industry, developing drugs that fight diabetes, seizures, and cancer. Dr. Frank L. Douglas has lived a life based on values, hard work, and self-control. His memoir is a reflection on the events and people that made him into the man he is.

This book is a story of race, pain, loss, survival, perseverance, harnessing and acquisition of power and ultimately, success.







English

FRANK L. DOUGLAS, PH.D., M.D.

Dr. Frank L. Douglas is an award-winning industry veteran with three decades of experience in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and entrepreneurship. He served as Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Member of the Board of Management of large Pharmaceutical companies such as Aventis AG, now Sanofi, SA. He recently served as CEO of THEVAX Genetics USA Inc. and Member of the Board of TheVax Genetics Vaccine Co. He is also co-founder of Douglas Ahmed Consulting (DAC). Some of his past experiences include: President and CEO of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer and Member of the Board of Management of Aventis AG, Chief Scientific Advisor of Bayer Healthcare, AG, Founder and First Executive Director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, Professor of the Practice in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, MIT Departments of Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology.

Dr. Douglas holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and a M.D. from Cornell University. He did his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute and a fellowship in neuroendocrinology at the National Institutes of Health.

EARLY LIFE
Dr Frank Douglas was born in British Guiana (Guyana) in 1943 where he, his mother and siblings spent his early days, sometimes homeless, sometimes hungry, often receiving relief from his mother’s wonderful friends: Mr. William Nurse (Uncle Willie) and Mrs Christabel Paris (Auntie Chrissie). After literally stepping back from the waiting abyss of a watery suicide attempt, and being told the true identity of his father, at age 12, he became a ‘born again’ Christian. In the succeeding years, he became a top student, having achieved the first place in Guyana in the College of Preceptors and the Senior Cambridge Examinations at ages 14 and 15, respectively. The latter performance won him a scholarship to Queens College High School, where he further distinguished himself as a student and leader. During this time, he also became very active in the Elim Evangelical Church and at age 19 became the Director of the Youth For Christ organization in Guyana. At age 20, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and came to America to study Chemistry in the Engineering College at Lehigh University. He arrived in America two weeks before the historic Martin Luther King march in Washington, D.C., where he delivered his famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech.

In his Memoirs, Dr. Douglas describes how the values that were instilled in him during his early life in Guyana, prepared him to navigate effects of racial discrimination in American universities and corporations: an American reality for which he was totally unprepared.

English




Amazon Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple living high thinking, true grit and wisdom wins
The title of this book is very aptly chosen. It is really thrilling when we reach the point in the book when Dr. Douglas reveals the significance of this title! Dr. Douglas tells a fascinating, adventurous and inspiring story of his journey from his childhood days in Guyana, almost missing attending high school due to financial issues, to becoming a topper at high school, securing Full Bright Scholarship to pursue Engineering in USA, at Lehigh, pursuing PhD in Chemistry at Cornell, and then Medicine at both Cornell and Johns Hopkins, working as a medical doctor, and moving into Pharmaceutical industry, leading R&D teams, revolutionizing Drug Discovery, winning several awards and post retirement also tirelessly contributing greatly by turning around organizations that aim to improve people’s lives by delivering therapies, solutions, enabling collaborations and improving processes.

In every phase of his journey he encountered challenges, resistance, discrimination and many sorts of issues as he ventured on to the road that was less travelled. However, armed with his hard work, perseverance and more importantly his true grit, conviction, personal ethic, noble values and humility, he succeeded in his efforts, winning over people’s hearts. His inner monologues as he dealt with those problems and as he describes his analysis of events in this book, make this book really engaging to the reader, it feels as though the reader has a way to look inside what’s going on in Dr. Douglas’s mind. It also gives hope and strength to every aspiring student, researcher, or professional in any field who can relate to such challenges and are striving. Reading this book is way better than listening to self-help or personal development talks. This is real life story of a person who is ‘master of his fate, captain of his soul’.

Though he faced resistance from people and systems, he also describes how some people who understood him went out of way to help him and acknowledges every such person’s role in making him the person he is with such great achievements and contributions to science, engineering and healthcare. There is a lot to learn from this book, luckily Dr. Douglas highlights the golden nuggets for success, such as the SOAR principle, many good leadership styles, traits and management strategies. We can use this book as a reference too when needed. I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Sumana Ramayanam
5.0 out of 5 stars A soft-spoken, serene almost spiritual man who has led a remarkable life.
The first 4 chapters are nearly not believable. From dirt poor to Lehigh U to PhD to MD to NIH to industry leadership. Dr Douglas is a force of nature; a force for good. All who have interacted with him have – eventually – felt the unstoppable force of warmth, steadfastness, intellect and humanity. Truly inspirational.

frankDLasCPA
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
It was an autobiography about Dr. Frank L.Douglas.It tells about his home country and the progress of how he got to go to college in The United StatesL. It tells of his struggles and his successes in college and also of the life lessons he learned along the way. He finds his career in research and later in teaching. He even became a US citizen and also lived in Germany for a while where he learned how the speak German to everyone’s surprise.

Bridgett Veltman
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!
This is a well written extraordinary book. The author Dr. Frank L. Douglas captured my attention from the beginning all the way until the end. I could not put the book down. It is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read! I highly recommend this book!

Steve Polimeni
View More Review Here
Goodreads Reviews
I offer this review of Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream as a person who has known Dr. Douglas since his days at Cornell University and who witnessed the events through his recounting them contemporaneously over the years.
My first thought is to confirm the narratives are true. My second thought is that, even so, Dr. Douglas was rather gracious in the chronicles, as some of the events unfolded in even harsher terms than he conveys using his professional eloquence. But, of course, he always is “The Consummate Professional” in his comportment.

The book is important for people of all ethnicities to read and understand, as racism is undeterred by levels of education and is pervasive among all races and cultures. Only the style and flavor of it changes among persecutors and the persecuted. The brutality of it remains constant. While I recommend this book for a broad audience, it is particularly poignant and useful for American Blacks and for other descendants of African cultures who are in the United States trying to penetrate and navigate American ways and mores.
While Dr. Douglas is a world-renown scientist, he is an equally brilliant project manager and supervisor of high-level scientists and managers. This book illustrates tools and techniques which could be helpful to anyone who has significant managerial responsibilities while facing a resistant staff, oversight person, or board of directors. I recommend the book with great appreciation for it and without reservation.

Nancy Wyatt
Dr. Frank Douglas has quite the reputation within the pharmaceutical community and for good reason. As this autobiography shows, he’s not just a man of great intelligence, but also compassion and integrity.
My only issue with this is that the formatting and editing was not well done, but it wasn’t as distracting as it could have been, and I’m glad I read it.

Nisha Ward
Kirkus Reviews
An often bracing reflection on racial discrimination and bias.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
Debut author Douglas reflects on a life of extraordinary academic and professional achievement and on the obstacles that prejudice put in his path.

The author was born in 1943 in Guyana, where he was a “questioning, innocent, poor kid from a colonial country fighting for its independence.” Despite suffering under the weight of poverty—an adult and three children, including himself, lived in his single-room home—he excelled academically and eventually earned a scholarship to New York City’s Queens College and then a Fulbright scholarship to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His scholastic achievement and his faith in God—he was a “boy preacher” in an Evangelical church—helped him to navigate his way out of a country that promised more political unrest than opportunity. The author devoted himself zealously to the study of physical chemistry and would go on to earn not only a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh, but also a doctorate from Cornell University before advancing to medical school. But despite his accomplishments, he says, he encountered bigotry everywhere. To Douglas’ great dismay, he even discovered racial prejudice among church members who preached about loving inclusion—an experience that first made him doubt his faithful commitments and then compelled him to break with religion entirely. It was a difficult decision, and he discusses it with thoughtfulness and subtlety in these pages. Overall, Douglas’ story is an inspiring one, and readers will find it remarkable how he continually was able to persevere in the face of daunting challenges. Also, he provides a candid, general anatomy of racism in the United States based on his own experience. However, the author’s recollection is too granularly detailed at times; for example, he lingers too long on specifics about classes he took and the minutiae of office politics, which has a tendency to overshadow his treatment of broader themes.

The US Review of Books
Focus more on what we contribute and less on what we control.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
From a boyhood of poverty, author Douglas has risen to remarkable success as a medical practitioner, researcher, and scientifically astute administrator. His autobiography begins with an incident that well illustrates the dire circumstances of his childhood in British Guiana (now Guyana). Riding his bicycle to the market to collect the family’s weekly foodstuffs, the boy encountered a rough surface, capsizing and effectively destroying his cargo. He was harshly beaten by his mother and even contemplated suicide. Things changed when he started school. Showing unusual intelligence, he won school honors, was supported while in college in Guiana, and awarded a Fulbright scholarship, leading him to the United States and a degree from Lehigh University.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Meanwhile, he was entering ever-higher realms of study and recognition based on his strong intellect and zest for discovery, though he describes these achievements modestly. He attained degrees from Cornell University and a residency at Johns Hopkins in internal medicine. He offers engaging vignettes of his interactions with patients, co-workers, and mentors, along with densely detailed scientific data gleaned from his varied and multifaceted fields of endeavor. Douglas taught pharmacology and made significant discoveries in that field. He was responsible for the establishment of the Center for Biomedical Innovation at MIT. He was awarded the George Beene Foundation and GQ magazine Rock Star of Science award. One of the few illustrations in this highly readable account, included at the insistence of his eight-year-old grandson, is the photograph of a plaque naming the medicines he helped to develop—substances for the treatment of such conditions as diabetes, allergies, tuberculosis, smoking cessation, pulmonary thrombosis, and cancer.

Among the accounts of his awards and recognitions, no story is more impressive or more touching than the tale of a vacation visit to Kenya. There, Douglas struck up a friendship with a man who made his living polishing shoes. The scientist’s direct kindness to the man and his family resulted in many benefits to the Kenyan and his community.

Throughout this inspiring, skillfully crafted chronicle, Douglas emerges again and again as a man who approaches problems with equal measures of logic and concern for others. In several instances he spurned chances for advancement or prestige because he was not in agreement with the principles of the offering institution or organization. His individualism and creativity provide points worth pondering. He has continued to champion the cause of black students and black and downtrodden people generally, having never forgotten his own roots in a poverty-ridden, politically conflicted homeland. The meaning of his name—Frank being Celtic for “free man” and Douglas being Scottish for “from a black stream”—became his personal banner. His vibrant memoir will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of hope and a source of motivation to those of any race or nationality who seek a clear pathway upward.

Amazon Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple living high thinking, true grit and wisdom wins
The title of this book is very aptly chosen. It is really thrilling when we reach the point in the book when Dr. Douglas reveals the significance of this title! Dr. Douglas tells a fascinating, adventurous and inspiring story of his journey from his childhood days in Guyana, almost missing attending high school due to financial issues, to becoming a topper at high school, securing Full Bright Scholarship to pursue Engineering in USA, at Lehigh, pursuing PhD in Chemistry at Cornell, and then Medicine at both Cornell and Johns Hopkins, working as a medical doctor, and moving into Pharmaceutical industry, leading R&D teams, revolutionizing Drug Discovery, winning several awards and post retirement also tirelessly contributing greatly by turning around organizations that aim to improve people’s lives by delivering therapies, solutions, enabling collaborations and improving processes.

In every phase of his journey he encountered challenges, resistance, discrimination and many sorts of issues as he ventured on to the road that was less travelled. However, armed with his hard work, perseverance and more importantly his true grit, conviction, personal ethic, noble values and humility, he succeeded in his efforts, winning over people’s hearts. His inner monologues as he dealt with those problems and as he describes his analysis of events in this book, make this book really engaging to the reader, it feels as though the reader has a way to look inside what’s going on in Dr. Douglas’s mind. It also gives hope and strength to every aspiring student, researcher, or professional in any field who can relate to such challenges and are striving. Reading this book is way better than listening to self-help or personal development talks. This is real life story of a person who is ‘master of his fate, captain of his soul’.

Though he faced resistance from people and systems, he also describes how some people who understood him went out of way to help him and acknowledges every such person’s role in making him the person he is with such great achievements and contributions to science, engineering and healthcare. There is a lot to learn from this book, luckily Dr. Douglas highlights the golden nuggets for success, such as the SOAR principle, many good leadership styles, traits and management strategies. We can use this book as a reference too when needed. I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Sumana Ramayanam
5.0 out of 5 stars A soft-spoken, serene almost spiritual man who has led a remarkable life.
The first 4 chapters are nearly not believable. From dirt poor to Lehigh U to PhD to MD to NIH to industry leadership. Dr Douglas is a force of nature; a force for good. All who have interacted with him have – eventually – felt the unstoppable force of warmth, steadfastness, intellect and humanity. Truly inspirational.

frankDLasCPA
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
It was an autobiography about Dr. Frank L.Douglas.It tells about his home country and the progress of how he got to go to college in The United StatesL. It tells of his struggles and his successes in college and also of the life lessons he learned along the way. He finds his career in research and later in teaching. He even became a US citizen and also lived in Germany for a while where he learned how the speak German to everyone’s surprise.

Bridgett Veltman
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!
This is a well written extraordinary book. The author Dr. Frank L. Douglas captured my attention from the beginning all the way until the end. I could not put the book down. It is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read! I highly recommend this book!

Steve Polimeni
View More Review Here
Goodreads Reviews
I offer this review of Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream as a person who has known Dr. Douglas since his days at Cornell University and who witnessed the events through his recounting them contemporaneously over the years.
My first thought is to confirm the narratives are true. My second thought is that, even so, Dr. Douglas was rather gracious in the chronicles, as some of the events unfolded in even harsher terms than he conveys using his professional eloquence. But, of course, he always is “The Consummate Professional” in his comportment.

The book is important for people of all ethnicities to read and understand, as racism is undeterred by levels of education and is pervasive among all races and cultures. Only the style and flavor of it changes among persecutors and the persecuted. The brutality of it remains constant. While I recommend this book for a broad audience, it is particularly poignant and useful for American Blacks and for other descendants of African cultures who are in the United States trying to penetrate and navigate American ways and mores.
While Dr. Douglas is a world-renown scientist, he is an equally brilliant project manager and supervisor of high-level scientists and managers. This book illustrates tools and techniques which could be helpful to anyone who has significant managerial responsibilities while facing a resistant staff, oversight person, or board of directors. I recommend the book with great appreciation for it and without reservation.

Nancy Wyatt
Dr. Frank Douglas has quite the reputation within the pharmaceutical community and for good reason. As this autobiography shows, he’s not just a man of great intelligence, but also compassion and integrity.
My only issue with this is that the formatting and editing was not well done, but it wasn’t as distracting as it could have been, and I’m glad I read it.

Nisha Ward
Kirkus Reviews
An often bracing reflection on racial discrimination and bias.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
Debut author Douglas reflects on a life of extraordinary academic and professional achievement and on the obstacles that prejudice put in his path.

The author was born in 1943 in Guyana, where he was a “questioning, innocent, poor kid from a colonial country fighting for its independence.” Despite suffering under the weight of poverty—an adult and three children, including himself, lived in his single-room home—he excelled academically and eventually earned a scholarship to New York City’s Queens College and then a Fulbright scholarship to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His scholastic achievement and his faith in God—he was a “boy preacher” in an Evangelical church—helped him to navigate his way out of a country that promised more political unrest than opportunity. The author devoted himself zealously to the study of physical chemistry and would go on to earn not only a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh, but also a doctorate from Cornell University before advancing to medical school. But despite his accomplishments, he says, he encountered bigotry everywhere. To Douglas’ great dismay, he even discovered racial prejudice among church members who preached about loving inclusion—an experience that first made him doubt his faithful commitments and then compelled him to break with religion entirely. It was a difficult decision, and he discusses it with thoughtfulness and subtlety in these pages. Overall, Douglas’ story is an inspiring one, and readers will find it remarkable how he continually was able to persevere in the face of daunting challenges. Also, he provides a candid, general anatomy of racism in the United States based on his own experience. However, the author’s recollection is too granularly detailed at times; for example, he lingers too long on specifics about classes he took and the minutiae of office politics, which has a tendency to overshadow his treatment of broader themes.

The US Review of Books
Focus more on what we contribute and less on what we control.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
From a boyhood of poverty, author Douglas has risen to remarkable success as a medical practitioner, researcher, and scientifically astute administrator. His autobiography begins with an incident that well illustrates the dire circumstances of his childhood in British Guiana (now Guyana). Riding his bicycle to the market to collect the family’s weekly foodstuffs, the boy encountered a rough surface, capsizing and effectively destroying his cargo. He was harshly beaten by his mother and even contemplated suicide. Things changed when he started school. Showing unusual intelligence, he won school honors, was supported while in college in Guiana, and awarded a Fulbright scholarship, leading him to the United States and a degree from Lehigh University.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Meanwhile, he was entering ever-higher realms of study and recognition based on his strong intellect and zest for discovery, though he describes these achievements modestly. He attained degrees from Cornell University and a residency at Johns Hopkins in internal medicine. He offers engaging vignettes of his interactions with patients, co-workers, and mentors, along with densely detailed scientific data gleaned from his varied and multifaceted fields of endeavor. Douglas taught pharmacology and made significant discoveries in that field. He was responsible for the establishment of the Center for Biomedical Innovation at MIT. He was awarded the George Beene Foundation and GQ magazine Rock Star of Science award. One of the few illustrations in this highly readable account, included at the insistence of his eight-year-old grandson, is the photograph of a plaque naming the medicines he helped to develop—substances for the treatment of such conditions as diabetes, allergies, tuberculosis, smoking cessation, pulmonary thrombosis, and cancer.

Among the accounts of his awards and recognitions, no story is more impressive or more touching than the tale of a vacation visit to Kenya. There, Douglas struck up a friendship with a man who made his living polishing shoes. The scientist’s direct kindness to the man and his family resulted in many benefits to the Kenyan and his community.

Throughout this inspiring, skillfully crafted chronicle, Douglas emerges again and again as a man who approaches problems with equal measures of logic and concern for others. In several instances he spurned chances for advancement or prestige because he was not in agreement with the principles of the offering institution or organization. His individualism and creativity provide points worth pondering. He has continued to champion the cause of black students and black and downtrodden people generally, having never forgotten his own roots in a poverty-ridden, politically conflicted homeland. The meaning of his name—Frank being Celtic for “free man” and Douglas being Scottish for “from a black stream”—became his personal banner. His vibrant memoir will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of hope and a source of motivation to those of any race or nationality who seek a clear pathway upward.


Amazon Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple living high thinking, true grit and wisdom wins
The title of this book is very aptly chosen. It is really thrilling when we reach the point in the book when Dr. Douglas reveals the significance of this title! Dr. Douglas tells a fascinating, adventurous and inspiring story of his journey from his childhood days in Guyana, almost missing attending high school due to financial issues, to becoming a topper at high school, securing Full Bright Scholarship to pursue Engineering in USA, at Lehigh, pursuing PhD in Chemistry at Cornell, and then Medicine at both Cornell and Johns Hopkins, working as a medical doctor, and moving into Pharmaceutical industry, leading R&D teams, revolutionizing Drug Discovery, winning several awards and post retirement also tirelessly contributing greatly by turning around organizations that aim to improve people’s lives by delivering therapies, solutions, enabling collaborations and improving processes.

In every phase of his journey he encountered challenges, resistance, discrimination and many sorts of issues as he ventured on to the road that was less travelled. However, armed with his hard work, perseverance and more importantly his true grit, conviction, personal ethic, noble values and humility, he succeeded in his efforts, winning over people’s hearts. His inner monologues as he dealt with those problems and as he describes his analysis of events in this book, make this book really engaging to the reader, it feels as though the reader has a way to look inside what’s going on in Dr. Douglas’s mind. It also gives hope and strength to every aspiring student, researcher, or professional in any field who can relate to such challenges and are striving. Reading this book is way better than listening to self-help or personal development talks. This is real life story of a person who is ‘master of his fate, captain of his soul’.

Though he faced resistance from people and systems, he also describes how some people who understood him went out of way to help him and acknowledges every such person’s role in making him the person he is with such great achievements and contributions to science, engineering and healthcare. There is a lot to learn from this book, luckily Dr. Douglas highlights the golden nuggets for success, such as the SOAR principle, many good leadership styles, traits and management strategies. We can use this book as a reference too when needed. I highly recommend this book for everyone.

Sumana Ramayanam
5.0 out of 5 stars A soft-spoken, serene almost spiritual man who has led a remarkable life.
The first 4 chapters are nearly not believable. From dirt poor to Lehigh U to PhD to MD to NIH to industry leadership. Dr Douglas is a force of nature; a force for good. All who have interacted with him have – eventually – felt the unstoppable force of warmth, steadfastness, intellect and humanity. Truly inspirational.

frankDLasCPA
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
It was an autobiography about Dr. Frank L.Douglas.It tells about his home country and the progress of how he got to go to college in The United StatesL. It tells of his struggles and his successes in college and also of the life lessons he learned along the way. He finds his career in research and later in teaching. He even became a US citizen and also lived in Germany for a while where he learned how the speak German to everyone’s surprise.

Bridgett Veltman
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!
This is a well written extraordinary book. The author Dr. Frank L. Douglas captured my attention from the beginning all the way until the end. I could not put the book down. It is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read! I highly recommend this book!

Steve Polimeni
View More Review Here
Goodreads Reviews
I offer this review of Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream as a person who has known Dr. Douglas since his days at Cornell University and who witnessed the events through his recounting them contemporaneously over the years.
My first thought is to confirm the narratives are true. My second thought is that, even so, Dr. Douglas was rather gracious in the chronicles, as some of the events unfolded in even harsher terms than he conveys using his professional eloquence. But, of course, he always is “The Consummate Professional” in his comportment.

The book is important for people of all ethnicities to read and understand, as racism is undeterred by levels of education and is pervasive among all races and cultures. Only the style and flavor of it changes among persecutors and the persecuted. The brutality of it remains constant. While I recommend this book for a broad audience, it is particularly poignant and useful for American Blacks and for other descendants of African cultures who are in the United States trying to penetrate and navigate American ways and mores.
While Dr. Douglas is a world-renown scientist, he is an equally brilliant project manager and supervisor of high-level scientists and managers. This book illustrates tools and techniques which could be helpful to anyone who has significant managerial responsibilities while facing a resistant staff, oversight person, or board of directors. I recommend the book with great appreciation for it and without reservation.

Nancy Wyatt
Dr. Frank Douglas has quite the reputation within the pharmaceutical community and for good reason. As this autobiography shows, he’s not just a man of great intelligence, but also compassion and integrity.
My only issue with this is that the formatting and editing was not well done, but it wasn’t as distracting as it could have been, and I’m glad I read it.

Nisha Ward
Kirkus Reviews
An often bracing reflection on racial discrimination and bias.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
Debut author Douglas reflects on a life of extraordinary academic and professional achievement and on the obstacles that prejudice put in his path.

The author was born in 1943 in Guyana, where he was a “questioning, innocent, poor kid from a colonial country fighting for its independence.” Despite suffering under the weight of poverty—an adult and three children, including himself, lived in his single-room home—he excelled academically and eventually earned a scholarship to New York City’s Queens College and then a Fulbright scholarship to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His scholastic achievement and his faith in God—he was a “boy preacher” in an Evangelical church—helped him to navigate his way out of a country that promised more political unrest than opportunity. The author devoted himself zealously to the study of physical chemistry and would go on to earn not only a bachelor’s degree from Lehigh, but also a doctorate from Cornell University before advancing to medical school. But despite his accomplishments, he says, he encountered bigotry everywhere. To Douglas’ great dismay, he even discovered racial prejudice among church members who preached about loving inclusion—an experience that first made him doubt his faithful commitments and then compelled him to break with religion entirely. It was a difficult decision, and he discusses it with thoughtfulness and subtlety in these pages. Overall, Douglas’ story is an inspiring one, and readers will find it remarkable how he continually was able to persevere in the face of daunting challenges. Also, he provides a candid, general anatomy of racism in the United States based on his own experience. However, the author’s recollection is too granularly detailed at times; for example, he lingers too long on specifics about classes he took and the minutiae of office politics, which has a tendency to overshadow his treatment of broader themes.

The US Review of Books
Focus more on what we contribute and less on what we control.
DEFINING MOMENTS OF A FREE MAN FROM A BLACK STREAM
From a boyhood of poverty, author Douglas has risen to remarkable success as a medical practitioner, researcher, and scientifically astute administrator. His autobiography begins with an incident that well illustrates the dire circumstances of his childhood in British Guiana (now Guyana). Riding his bicycle to the market to collect the family’s weekly foodstuffs, the boy encountered a rough surface, capsizing and effectively destroying his cargo. He was harshly beaten by his mother and even contemplated suicide. Things changed when he started school. Showing unusual intelligence, he won school honors, was supported while in college in Guiana, and awarded a Fulbright scholarship, leading him to the United States and a degree from Lehigh University.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Douglas’s personal perspective from his school years in America casts light on the many challenges faced by black students in the early 1960s and beyond. A devout Christian, he was shaken to observe that “churches were fighting to uphold and reinforce segregation,” while in the realm of academia, there were many overt and unspoken policies that excluded blacks from reaching the top ranks. Douglas never failed to try to correct incidents of discrimination directed at himself and others.

Meanwhile, he was entering ever-higher realms of study and recognition based on his strong intellect and zest for discovery, though he describes these achievements modestly. He attained degrees from Cornell University and a residency at Johns Hopkins in internal medicine. He offers engaging vignettes of his interactions with patients, co-workers, and mentors, along with densely detailed scientific data gleaned from his varied and multifaceted fields of endeavor. Douglas taught pharmacology and made significant discoveries in that field. He was responsible for the establishment of the Center for Biomedical Innovation at MIT. He was awarded the George Beene Foundation and GQ magazine Rock Star of Science award. One of the few illustrations in this highly readable account, included at the insistence of his eight-year-old grandson, is the photograph of a plaque naming the medicines he helped to develop—substances for the treatment of such conditions as diabetes, allergies, tuberculosis, smoking cessation, pulmonary thrombosis, and cancer.

Among the accounts of his awards and recognitions, no story is more impressive or more touching than the tale of a vacation visit to Kenya. There, Douglas struck up a friendship with a man who made his living polishing shoes. The scientist’s direct kindness to the man and his family resulted in many benefits to the Kenyan and his community.

Throughout this inspiring, skillfully crafted chronicle, Douglas emerges again and again as a man who approaches problems with equal measures of logic and concern for others. In several instances he spurned chances for advancement or prestige because he was not in agreement with the principles of the offering institution or organization. His individualism and creativity provide points worth pondering. He has continued to champion the cause of black students and black and downtrodden people generally, having never forgotten his own roots in a poverty-ridden, politically conflicted homeland. The meaning of his name—Frank being Celtic for “free man” and Douglas being Scottish for “from a black stream”—became his personal banner. His vibrant memoir will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of hope and a source of motivation to those of any race or nationality who seek a clear pathway upward.

Top reviews from other countries
schmd711
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for the Aspiring Professional
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2019
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Defining Moments of a Free Man from A Black Stream chronicles the journey of a young black man growing up in abject poverty in a small South American country and rising to become one of the world's pre-eminent scientists in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Defining Moments could easily have been 3 books in 1. The first section (Book I) describes the struggles of a young man dealing with childhood trauma, questioning his place in family, yearning for acceptance and finally coming to the realization that despite all obstacles, he alone was responsible for his own destiny. The second section (Book II) takes the reader through the author's migration from his country of birth to the culture shock of and adjustment to life in his new country. From his days at Lehigh University through his PhD acquisition, medical school training and black activism at Cornell, his residency at Johns Hopkins, his stints at Xerox and the NIH and his community medicine initiative at University of Chicago, the writer paints a picture of his love of science, wonderment and the parlaying of newfound knowledge into a storied career. The third section (Book III) deals with the author's coming-of-age professionally and is essentially a technical treatise on science, drug discovery and development. It is also a how-to on navigating the minefields of the professional world. Perhaps the most important part of the book lies in the final pages in which the author describes a speech he gave to the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, on receipt of a Lifetime Achievement Award. In his speech, he exhorted his audience to be true to themselves, to stand steadfast, to live by example and to focus on a higher purpose other than self. It is a theme that is skillfully woven throughout the book and is the thread that connects all three sections. Defining Moments is a story of race, pain, loss, survival, hard work, perseverance, harnessing and acquisition of power and ultimately, success. Mostly, it is a tribute to a woman who features prominently yet unobtrusively throughout the book - a single mother with many societal limitations whose offspring dreamt of endless possibilities and achieved the pinnacle of success. If you are a student, a postdoctoral fellow, a young professional or a seasoned veteran, this book is a must-read.

Robert Goldberg
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definition of a Free Man
Reviewed in the United States on February 12, 2019
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Not many people are told, at gunpoint, by the dictator to take the next flight out of his country and never come back. Fewer still have replied by asking the dictator to pay for the trip, let alone live to do so.

But such quiet acts of defiance connect the "Defining Moments of a Free Man From a Black Stream" by Frank Douglas, Douglas, one of the most highly honored and respected leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, could have written an entire book about his many careers ranging from a physician, a drug development executive, venture capital advisor, biotech CEO and director of two initiatives to accelerate the commercialization of academic life science research and that alone would have been interesting, informative and inspiring. But the formative experiences, the events that truly defined the life of Frank Douglas, were forged not in corporate boardrooms or high-level meetings but instead in how he chose to act when faced with beatings, homelessness, outright racism, and political intimidation.

The autobiography opens with a 12 year Frank Douglas being whipped by his mother after being told that he deliberately dumped a week's worth of groceries from his bicycle basket by her emotionally unstable and sadistic sister, Edith. It wasn't the first time. Edith took a sick delight in blaming Frank for things he did not do, knowing that it would lead to a beating. After this incident, Frank decided he had no choice but to kill himself by plunging into the deep waters off the coast of his native Guyana.

He asked himself how much "hope is there for a boy of twelve when in his own home he cannot defend himself or defend against injustice?" Ever the rational being, Frank realized that the possibility of jumping and living in pain wasn't worth the effort to commit suicide. Instead, he "concluded that there had to be a different solution to my dilemma."

He ran to the home of a woman he called "Moms" who is the mother would take to visit every Sunday after church and declared he wanted to live there. It was then that Moms told Frank that her son was his real father. The revelation did not devastate him, it made him stronger. He went home, no longer a victim, and told his mother and aunt Edith he would not be beaten or manipulated again.

Such defiance was forged from faith and fearlessness in confronting events and forces that appeared to be beyond his control. Much like Jacob wrestled God from darkness into dawn before receiving the name Israel, Frank Douglas truly earned his name (which literally means a free man from a black stream) by virtue of his willingness to confront malevolent, even violent forces throughout his life.

Throughout his academic career which took him from a small private school in Guyana to Lehigh University and then to Cornell for a Ph.D. in Chemistry and a medical degree, Douglas faced outright racism. Others would have endured it or, especially today sought to triumph by being defined as a victim. Instead, Frank Douglas took on the threats, often without regard to short term consequences, by confronting those who wanted to squash him because he was black.

If he had acted otherwise, the world would be a lesser place. His novel approaches to conducting drug discovery and development spread from the companies he worked for and transformed practice throughout the industry. The hundreds of students and entrepreneurs that sustain medical innovation would be fewer in number and less effective. And those fortunate enough to have read the book would not have the privilege of being taught an ageless lesson about the human condition: that our character is not just our destiny, it is the legacy we leave behind. And as Defining Moments demonstrates, that heritage is shaped by the work of our own hearts and hands and not the faceless, inexorable traverse from past to future.

Wanda1313
5.0 out of 5 stars Humble beginnings to insightful righteous man of our times.
Reviewed in the United States on January 10, 2019
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This book is well written and does a great job of putting racial roles into perspective while delving into areas where profiling can and does occur in schools, college and business. I believe this book could and would help our future educators and corporations bring about changes in attitudes towards perceived racial inequities. I highly recommend reading this book to enhance your knowledge of our mainstream education and business realities throughout the world.

Levern McElveen
5.0 out of 5 stars People of Color should know that we will face racial challenges in every field and at every level.
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2020
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I will start by saying the book is wonderful and can be described as one of the best books I have read. My only regret is I should have read the book 20 years ago. The book begins describing a black man journey from Africa to the U.S. and the author excelled in every endeavor, despite major racial obstacles, even at the top of his profession. It is sad when one's professionalism is questioned, not because of performance, but the mere color of his skin. What I found even more interesting was he faced racial obstacles abroad where racism is not as prevelant as in America. Because of his profound intellect, he offered readers strategies that will assist, especially people of color in the workplace today by being prepared for certain behaviors (racism, jealously, envy, refusal and denial).

I believe this is a book every medical student should read and I would add this book as a recommendation for all people of color because we must understand that we will be challenged at every level in this society, even when we match up and even when we don't match up. Clearly, Dr. Frank Douglas matched up among the best in the science world and still faced challenges. The second lesson was that he learned to overcome each obstacle with out allowing the obstacle to defeat him. He kept his eyes on the prize. He was very clear with every goal and objective he set for himself and created necessary strategies to get around the obstacles. Another key point was that he used "communication," effective communication to his advantage. He knew people in the right place, he was honest in his dealing, he asked tough questions and he challenged conventional wisdom. He didn't hesitate to call on those he trusted to seek their opinions before certain high level meetings.

Robinswood
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story of a wise man
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2019
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Dr. Frank Douglas’ intellect is well documented, but his life story shows how much tenacity was required to achieve success in science, medicine and leadership. Few have overcome so many challenges, and fewer yet have done so with both strength of character and principles intact. An inspiring message of courage in the face of poverty, unfairness and racial bias.
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