Professor Olu Akinyanju resuscitated the Sickle Cell Club Lagos in 1984 and was appointed Honorary Adviser to the WHO on Hereditary Haemoglobin Disorders in 1985, following which he attended numerous WHO meetings, study groups and delivered several papers at many conferences.

In 1991, he founded the Federation of Sickle Cell Clubs of Nigeria and in 1994, the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria. The Foundation has established a National Sickle Cell Centre opposite the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. This is the first comprehensive Sickle Cell Centre in Africa.  In 2004, the World Health Organisation invited him as an Expert on the Panel of the Genomic Research Centre.

He is a past President and now, Trustee of the Nigerian Society for Haematology and Blood Transfusion and past President of the Association of Physicians of Nigeria. He was conferred in 2006, with a national honour as Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).