Vivien Theodore Thomas was laboratory supervisor who never went to college; yet he rose above poverty and racism to develop a procedure for treating cyanotic heart disease. Initially billed as janitor, he began his career as assistant to surgeon Alfred Blalock first at Nashville University and later at Johns Hopkins, and in time discovered the life-saving technique, eventually becoming a teacher of operative techniques.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is credited with many pioneering neurosurgical procedures. He became a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He later contested in the 2016 presidential primaries, has authored numerous books, was a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and earned 60 honorary doctorates.
Nigerian-American physician, forensic-pathologist and neuropathologist Bennet Omalu is most-noted for discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players. He was serving at Allegheny County coroner's office in Pittsburgh at that time. He presently serves as President and Medical Director of Bennet Omalu Pathology, chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, and as professor at the University of California, Davis.
Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to fly into space, as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A qualified physician, she has served as a Peace Corps doctor, too. She has written several books and established a non-profit and a tech research organization.
Frantz Fanon was a French-West Indian born in Martinique, a former French colony. A skilled psychiatrist and physician, he realized the impact of colonialism on the human mind while treating French soldiers and Algerians. The author of books such as The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon supported the Algerian independence movement.
The second female U.S. surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders is a renowned pediatrician and one of the first Black women to reach the pinnacle of the medical field in the U.S. She has been dragged into multiple controversies, one of them being a result of her support for sex education and masturbation.
Ophthalmologist Patricia Bath is remembered for her pathbreaking invention of the Laserphaco Probe, which made laser cataract surgery possible. The first Black female surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center and the first female faculty staff of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, she dedicated her life to curing blindness.
Famed for her dedicated service to underserved community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, American physician Regina Mercia Benjamin held several important positions including that of the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. Throughout her career, she worked for the disadvantaged people, focusing on preventive health measures, mortgaging her home to rebuild Bayou La Batre Health Clinic after Hurricane Katrina.
Hamilton Naki was a laboratory assistant who worked alongside cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa. Despite not having a formal medical education, he was known for his dexterity with surgical equipment and his ability to teach medical students. Some sources claim he participated in the world's first human-to-human heart transplantation in 1967.
Apart from being a qualified otolaryngologist, Samkon Gado is also a former NFL running back and has played for reputed teams such as the Green Bay Packers. The Nigerian-American sportsperson and surgeon once revealed he had used football in his college days to fund his medical studies.