Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, the first woman to serve as president of the Association of Black cardiologists

Stephen Nartey March 16, 2023
Dr. Elizabeth Ofili/Photo credit: Academy Health

In the late 90s, she was adjudged one of America’s leading physicians. Dr. Elizabeth Ofili is reputed for her work which helped explain heart disease risks among African Americans. In medical history, she is described as a professor of medicine and a renowned cardiologist. This feat wasn’t achieved on a silver platter. When she arrived in the United States in the early eighties as a trained physician from Nigeria, the system did not accord her the recognition deserving of her intellect, but she was undaunted and determined to prove herself.

Dr. Ofili attended Ahmadu Bello University, where she had her medical education. To be recognized in the U.S. medical system, she decided to further her education in public health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1983, she earned her public health degree and continued her internal medicine residency at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she furthered her research fellowship.

Years later, she was selected as a cardiology fellow at the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where she was appointed as an adjunct assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology, according to cf medicine. When she got her certification in both internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases, she headed to Moorehouse School of Medicine in 1994, where she was appointed associate professor of medicine and chief section of cardiology. She later became a well-accomplished professor in 1999.

When Dr. Ofili became a director and principal investor of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center at Morehouse, one of her prime goals was to develop and upgrade the university’s research infrastructure. When she received funding from federal and private grants for this objective, she prioritized research into heart diseases among African Americans and broke new frontiers of knowledge in this area.

Her expertise earned her another job to research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Medicine and Life Sciences Research Center. At NASA, she looked into vascular responses in salt-sensitive and salt-resistant individuals, and the effects of microgravity on the vascular system.

Dr. Ofili is celebrated today for her expertise in the field of echocardiography, where sound waves are used to study the heart and how it functions. She was awarded by the American Society of Echocardiography and Mallinckrodt Cardiology in 1993 for her work on echo studies of myocardial blood flow and became the first woman to serve as president of the Association of Black cardiologists.

She is married to the chief of nephrology at Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Chamberlain Obialo, with four children, and serves on the board of trustees of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates and the Pfizer Women’s Health Initiative. Her mentors are Doctors Roger Bitar, Art Hagan, Art Labovitz, and Morton Kern. Overall, her parents are her biggest cheerleaders; they always told her she could achieve anything if she set her heart to it.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 16, 2023


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