Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green may not quite cut the picture of your typical scientific researcher. Young, Black, and pretty, she could have been a movie star, singer or even a prime-time TV news anchor.
Yet, Dr. Green is an African-American researcher who is using her knowledge of physics to contribute new groundbreaking research to the treatment of cancer tumors.
Green, 35, completed her undergraduate degree in Physics and Optics at Alabama A&M University in 2003. She then went on to earn a post graduate degree and then a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, in 2009 and 2012.
Dr. Green’s story provides a refreshing narrative on how much young African-American girls can achieve if they dream, set goals, and work toward them.
Succeeding Against the Odds
As an 18-month-old child, Green lost her mother and was raised in an environment that did not provide her with many college-educated mentors. However, she overcame all of these obstacles to become one of the less than 100 Black female physicists in the United States as well as an assistant professor at the prestigious Morehouse School of Medicine.
Green’s research focuses on developing a cutting-edge technique that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to selectively target and destroy cancer cells while leaving out the body’s healthy cells.
And so far, her methods have been measurably successful with lab mice.
In recognition of her work, Green was awarded a $1.1 million research grant by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Scientist Training Program (HBCU RSTP) from the Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development.
On her website, Dr. Green states:
“The grant will support the further development of four patent-pending technologies including a 3-in-1 system for early detection, imaging, targeting, and selective treatment of head and neck cancer and a 10-minute laser-activated nanoparticle treatment that induces ~100% tumor regression.”
Although still in its early stages, Dr. Green hopes her research, which embraces a holistic approach by focusing on two methods of treatment (tumor shrinkage/tumor regression using nanotechnology and monotherapy), will enhance the body’s immune system.
Dr. Green says the decision to focus on cancer research was an easy one to make due to the loss of her aunt who raised her to cancer and observing an uncle suffer pain from cancer and then remain debilitated from his chemotherapy treatment.
She now hopes that with additional funding she can demonstrate how nanotechnology can be utilized in the treatment of a variety of cancer models, including colorectal, ovarian, cervical, breast, brain, pancreatic, bladder, skin, and prostate cancers.
Dr. Green, however, isn’t your typical scientist: Once voted homecoming queen by her peers and school alumni, she takes time out of her busy schedule to mentor young, Black girls and get them to believe that they can be absolutely anything they want to be.