The Path to Success Has Been Rocky for Cancer Researcher Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, but Faith and Family Helped Her Stay the Course


There have been a number of studies proposing ways to prevent cancer or offer more effective treatments for patients. Most of these studies have been developed based on the work of physicists, scientists and medical professionals, and not many of these individuals are female or people of color. That’s just one reason Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green’s work is so significant.

Green is an Alabama scientist who received her master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is making great strides in cancer research and was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant to work on technology that will target, image and treat cancer. During her studies at UAB, Green started developing a method for targeting the cancer cells without damaging the nearby healthy cells.

Green admits that her path to success has been challenging. However, she says her struggles have been character builders. The process has been “way too spiritual to make it purely academic,” she says.

A St. Louis native, Green was raised by her uncle and aunt after her parents died. Aside from being in tears over the mental commitment required to receive her doctorate, Green also encountered a dissertation committee member who told her she would never graduate. With faith, support from her church and biological family — and a picture of President Obama above her bed for extra motivation — Green accomplished her goal.

After graduation, Green took a temporary position in Singapore. With her uncle’s blessing, she eventually took an assistant professor position at Tuskegee University. Her uncle, a two-time cancer survivor, died from cancer a few months after she accepted the Tuskegee position. Green’s aunt has suffered from cancer as well, and her family’s health issues motivated her to find ways to treat cancer and prevent the disease from returning.

Green received her grant for cancer research from the VA Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Scientist Training Program. While many people think the grant process was fairly easy for Green, she shares with The that she had to apply for the grant three times before it was approved. She believes  the process was worthwhile, and says she just wants to be the vessel God uses to provide the world with new and innovative ways to treat cancer.

Green has been an assistant professor at Tuskegee University since 2013, and is striving to establish and maintain a quality research program for students. In addition to the remarkable research she has done regarding cancer cells, Green was also the team lead for a project entitled “A Minimally Invasive Multifunctional Nano-Enabled Approach for Selective Targeting, Imaging and NIR Photothermal Therapy of Tumors.” She secured $200,000 for the funding of the project, which indicates that she’ll be even more successful with her newest cancer research grant.

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