“A young black man from very humble beginnings who took the road less traveled by many – his study and work ethics propelled him to become a world renowned scientist while remaining humble. This book is an inspiration for lay persons, professionals, and scientists alike. I highly recommend this authentic autobiography….you will not be able to put it down.”


 — Mignon Murray, Amazon Book Review



This inspirational memoir validates how success is achieved through hard work, honesty, and above all, ethics.

It is a moving personal story that provides important lessons about leadership, stimulating innovation, and staying true to one’s beliefs.

—Peter L.

Amazon Review, Five Stars

An Inspirational & Compelling Memoir


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.


An Immigrant Success Story…

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 by 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. 

The first section 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 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. 


A “How To” in Effectively Changing the World We Live In

The life story of a brilliant scientist, who lived by the principle of “do the right thing.” While many of his pharmaceutical drugs are well known for impacting patients, his true genius lies in his demeanor. Dr. Douglas has an uncanny gift of being able to objectively look at an issue and determine if change is needed because it is unjust/unfair or if the change is needed in himself – and influencing that change. It is a lesson in humility for those who say they want to change the world. They will quickly learn it is not about what you say but what you quietly do.

—Bonnie K Griffith

Amazon Review, Five Stars

Why I wrote this book…

This autobiography contains life episodes in which I was judged by the color of my skin, as well as, thankfully, moments in which I was judged by the content of my character. At a time when Truth and Values change with whims of the wealthy and powerful, I found that taking the less well-traveled road and having True Grit  did more to determine one’s future and ultimately how one will be judged.

The meaning behind the title…


My first name, Frank, means free man or free mason. My last name, Douglas, carries the meaning from a black stream—hence, I am a free man from a black stream. My defining moments are the pivotal events  in my life that I remember as if they were yesterday. 


About Dr. Frank Douglas

Dr. Frank L. Douglas grew up in British Guiana with his mother and four siblings. His love of education earned him a Fulbright Scholarship and he came to America during the turbulent years of the 1960s. He worked at Ciba Giegy and Aventis, and was involved in the pharmaceutical industry where he spearheaded research and development of drugs that treat tuberculosis, arthritis, diabetes, seizures, cancer and pulmonary embolism, among others. 

Douglas has received the Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development Director of the Year Award in 2001 and 2004; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers in 2002; the Black History Maker Award in 2007; the Geoffrey Beene Foundation and GQ Rockstar of Science, and the Odyssey Award from the Center of Medicine in the Public Interest in 2010;  and the Caribbean  Heritage Award for Entrepreneurship in 2011. 

Douglas wrote A Free Man From a Black Stream in honor of all those who have helped him along his journey. 

More Praise

A Must Read for the Aspiring Professional

“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.”

— Schmd711, Amazon Review, Five Stars 

To the ‘underrepresented’ …

This Memoir is an empowering testimonial that one can have a successful career without the betrayal of self and intrinsic values that we are led to believe are inexorable concomitants on that path to success. An inspiring witness to the overcoming power of a life of integrity!

—Reginald J.

Managing Director, Wallingsford Associates

A Great Inspirational Gift to Society

Given the current climate around the world, this book is a must read if you are: a university/college professor or administrator working with undergraduate and graduate students; working in corporate America; a community-based organization leader who works with young people; a K-12 teacher or administrator; a parent or grandparent; a faith-based leader; an athletics coach at any level. You will be empowered by reading it as I have.

—Dr. Henry Odi

Associate Provost, Lehigh University

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. 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.

—Robert Goldberg, PhD

Vice President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest

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