Eseosa Ighodaro, MD, PhD, is a neurologist busy tackling well being disparities now. However she saved her first experiments on ice at house.

“I used to cover experiments within the freezer so my mother couldn’t see them,” she says. “I’d combine orange juice, pepper, and salt to see if I might create a chemical response. Afterwards, my mother would go into the kitchen and say, ‘The place are my substances?’ She was calling me ‘Physician’ even earlier than I knew I needed to be a physician-scientist.”

Within the household eating room, Ighodaro’s father arrange a whiteboard with erasers and markers to show his daughters math and science. He’d come to the U.S. from Nigeria in his 20s with $20 in his pocket. Having labored part-time jobs whereas getting his laptop science diploma, he had no endurance for excuses.

“On the weekend, when different children had been taking part in outdoors, he’d say, ‘The place’s your science e-book? The place’s your math e-book?’” Ighodaro says. “I went to school considering I might take over the world!”

The achievements saved coming. Ighodaro grew to become the primary Black girl to graduate from the College of Kentucky School of Drugs with a mixed MD/PhD diploma in 2019. A medical faculty neuroscience class made her fall in love with the mind. So after graduating, she headed to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for her residency in neurology and neuroscience analysis. Subsequent comes a fellowship in vascular neurology at Emory College, the place she plans to turn into a stroke specialist.

However her targets go approach past her levels. 

Combating Well being Disparities in Neurology

Ighodaro plans to tackle the well being disparities round stroke within the Black group. That features learning how continual racism might elevate stroke threat – and serving to to stop Black individuals who’ve already had one stroke to not have one other.

She’s already gained nationwide prominence as an advocate and instructor. The COVID-19 dying of one other physician – Susan Moore, MD, an inside medication physician in Indiana – was a turning level.

Ighodaro had seen Moore’s movies posted on Fb whereas hospitalized and severely unwell. Moore described how she had begged for a CT scan and to get the antiviral drug remdesivir, and the way she was refused ache treatment. “If I used to be white, I wouldn’t must undergo that,” Moore stated in a single video. “That is how Black folks get killed, while you ship them house, they usually don’t know methods to battle for themselves.” Moore was discharged from one hospital on Dec. 7, 2020, and was readmitted to a different hospital simply 12 hours later. She died on Dec. 20, 2020. 

“Watching this video, I used to be irate,” Ighodaro says. “It was unacceptable! A Black feminine doctor begging to be seen, to be handled as human, solely to be dismissed. She died of COVID-19 issues as a result of a system during which she labored to care for sufferers handled her like a drug-seeker.”

Ighodaro put collectively a panel of eight Black girls medical doctors and medical college students. They launched a video, “Tragedy: The Story of Dr. Susan Moore and Black Medical Disparities,” about what Moore’s dying meant to them. Its success impressed Ighodaro to supply two extra panel dialogue movies: one on racial well being disparities in fertility, labor, and supply and one other on racism in medical publishing. 

The response to her movies prompted Ighodaro to create  Ziengbe (“zee-en-bay”), a nonprofit well being advocacy group. The phrase means “perseverance” within the Edo language of Nigeria, her father’s folks. Ziengbe’s mission is to eradicate neurological and different well being disparities going through the Black group by way of advocacy, training, and empowerment. 

“I need us to deal with this subject like a medical emergency,” like how a stroke is handled, Ighodaro says. “If we don’t, Black folks will proceed to die.” 

Nurturing the Subsequent Technology

Ighodaro additionally has her eye on the medical doctors and scientists who’re coming after her. 

One in every of her first initiatives with Ziengbe was to harness social media to assist, educate, and mentor younger folks from communities of shade and different underrepresented teams who’re fascinated with pursuing neurology careers. 

“I had such great mentors who performed a serious position in my turning into a neurologist,” she says. However she sees “so many college students” who don’t.


Ighodaro has digital neurology examine teams. She makes use of e mail, WhatsApp, and social media platforms similar to Instagram, Twitter, and Fb and has grown it right into a group of practically 500 college students and mentors. In additional than a dozen on-line examine classes over the previous 12 months, she’s hosted classes on matters together with stroke administration, seizures, and traumatic mind damage in addition to making ready first-year interns for his or her first time training medication on a hospital ward. The movies are archived on-line through the Ziengbe web site. 

She’s helped college students publish their work, strengthening them as neurology residency candidates. “A few of them have by no means written a paper like this for a medical journal earlier than,” Ighodaro says. She additionally speaks to medical skilled societies, such because the American Academy of Neurology, about utilizing social media to recruit the following technology of medical doctors, empower underserved populations, and fight racial disparities in well being and well being care.

“One in every of my major targets is to recruit extra folks of shade to the sector of neurology and neuroscience, particularly Black girls,” Ighodaro says. “I’m making an attempt to be the mentor that I needed after I was youthful. Throughout my training, it was uncommon for me to be taught by a Black feminine neurologist or neuroscientist, and even come throughout one.”

These too younger to know their prospects are a few of her favorites. 

“I need to present little Black ladies that we’re right here,” Ighodaro says. “The street is troublesome and will be lonely at instances, however we are able to do it. We simply must dream large.”

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