Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green
”During my my freshman year at Alabama A&M University, I had changed my major three times. I was coming out of calculus, and a lady named Ayesha Fields, who was working on her Ph.D. in physics at the time, pulled me aside and basically said, ‘You must be pretty smart taking calculus as a freshman. I bet you can do physics.’ She told me that if I majored in physics, then I could probably go into any other major later, so I thought it was the perfect major for someone who was undecided. And like that, I became a physics major. She went on to become the 50th African-American female in the United States to get a Ph.D. in physics, and then I became the 76th.”
“After graduation, I went back home to St. Louis [MO], and my aunt, who raised me with my uncle, announced that she had cancer and that she would rather die on her own terms than experience the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I was her caregiver. Seeing cancer eat her from the inside out changed me. Three months after she passed, my uncle was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and I was his caregiver while he went through chemo and radiation. Seeing him lose 150 pounds and all of his hair, that is when I really became filled with the conviction that there has to be a better way.”
“During a freshman internship at NASA, one of the scientists explained that satellites from outer space can tell whether a dime is face-up or face-down. And I said, “If a satellite can tell whether a dime is face-up or face-down, then why can’t we treat cancer in a specific region of the body?” That didn’t make sense to me as a physicist. So after my aunt died, I sketched out what I thought would be a good idea for using lasers to treat cancer. Then I went to grad school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to figure out how to use lasers to treat cancer. That was my sole objective. It was singular and focused, and that was all I wanted to do in life. That is when I knew that this was my passion, my purpose, my ministry — this was it.”
“When it relates to black women, I think that the images that we see portrayed on TV and in the media have historically not been the most positive. I think it’s important for little girls to see positive role models that look like them. And I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have people who mentored me. That really mattered. I know some people who weren’t encouraged, and when you don’t water a flower, it dies. “
“The most rewarding thing about my work was that little girls wrote black history month reports about me, portrayed me in their programs and said they want to be scientists like Dr. Green when they grow up.” - Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, one of the first African American women to earn a Ph.D. in physics, holds the distinction of being only the second African American woman and the fourth African American to receive a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). With more than ten years of interdisciplinary research experience, Dr. Green specializes in developing targeted cancer therapies using lasers and nanoparticles. Her expertise lies at the intersection of nanotechnology, immunotherapy, and precision medicine.
Notably, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green developed a cancer treatment that uses lasers and nanotechnology to kill cancer in mice in just 15 days after a single 10-minute treatment with no observable side effects. She founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation, to raise the funding for human clinical trials so this treatment can be made affordable for everyone. Dr. Green has intertwined her life’s purpose into the mission of the organization: to change the way cancer is treated and reduce the suffering of cancer patients by providing a treatment that is accessible, affordable, and effective. To learn more and support her efforts, visit OraLee.org and follow her on social media @DrHadiyahGreen.
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