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Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH
Obesity Medicine & Nutrition Physician & Clinical
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Medical School: Medical College of Georgia
Residency: Internal Medicine & Pediatrics/ Palmetto Health,
University of South Carolina School of Medicine
ACP Affiliation: Resident/Fellow Member and recipient of the
2013 Joseph E. Johnson Leadership Award
This year's recipient of the ACP Joseph E. Johnson
Leadership Award, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an ACP
Resident/Fellow Member who, despite her youth, already has a long
history of being recognized for her leadership and academic
At the age of 14, Dr. Stanford received a biomedical research
grant from the National Institutes of Health as part of a program
for young scientists sponsored by Emory University. While her peers
were hanging out at the mall, Fatima was spending her summers
peering through a microscope in a medical laboratory at Emory. By
age 24, she had received the bronze, the silver, and finally, the
prestigious Gold Congressional Award for public service; and, in
2012 she was a regional White House Fellows finalist.
A scholar is born
Born and raised in Atlanta, Dr. Stanford says she remembers
always wanting to be a doctor. When she was just three years old, a
great aunt asked her if she was going to grow up and be a nurse, to
which the young Fatima replied, "not nurse, doctor." For Dr.
Stanford, academic achievement was a goal instilled in her at an
early age by her maternal grandmother who tutored her so well in
her pre-school years she was able to skip first grade. Her father,
a fine artist, and her mother, a corporate director with Macy's,
encouraged their daughter's passion for learning and introduced her
to their physician friends who became her early mentors.
In high school, Dr. Stanford excelled in science. She received
the Atlanta Public Schools Science Achievement award and was a
finalist in the International Science & Engineering Fair held
in Canada. In addition to her studies, she ran track and was a
member of the cheerleading team. She was selected class
valedictorian and by the time she graduated, she had been named
Ebony Magazine's Top High School Student and was listed among USA
Today's High School Academic Team. Academic scholarship offers
poured in (a record $1.9 million), and Dr. Stanford chose Emory
University where she received her bachelor's degree in anthropology
and human biology and her master's degree in Public Health.
Enjoying the larger view
Getting her master's degree in Public Health delayed her
entrance into the Medical College of Georgia by two years, but Dr.
Stanford says she appreciates the macro view of medicine that
Emory's public health program provided her. While completing her
degree, she worked at the CDC and the American Cancer Society, and
says that each of these experiences illustrated for her the
connection between care delivered at the individual level and its
impact on the larger population.
Her appreciation for the larger view is also the reason she
changed her specialty from orthopedics to internal medicine and
pediatrics. Dr. Stanford says her initial interest in orthopedics
was due in part to her desire to witness the immediate and
gratifying results of replacing knees and hips. However, the more
she studied medicine, the more she wanted to "treat the whole body
and not just one part of it." She began asking herself, "If I
replace the knee of a patient who is obese, how much have I really
Dr. Stanford is currently completing a Harvard fellowship in the
new field of obesity medicine. She is also interested in health
disparity and policy issues and is hoping to do one more fellowship
in Minority Health Policy and obtain a second master's degree in
Public Administration. Her long-term career goals include service
in the fields of government and academia. Dr. Stanford believes
it's important for young physicians to join organizations like ACP
that advocate for medical progress and innovation and can help
nurture their careers. Her best advice to medical students is "Go
into medical school with a very open mind to all of the
possibilities medicine offers and take the time to seek out
opportunities that align with your core values and what you are
Actions speak louder
One of the things Dr. Stanford is passionate about is exercise.
She began taking dance classes at the age of three, and studied
everything from classical ballet to modern. She even minored in
dance at Emory. It's hard to imagine she finds time for many
extracurricular activities, but she says that dance and exercise
have been a mainstay throughout her life, and give her the balance
and focus she needs for her career. "I consider exercise a
non-negotiable," says Dr. Stanford; and, as a goal-oriented
multi-tasker, it's no surprise that her exercise regime includes
high-intensity workouts like Insanity, and Zumba classes, the
Latin-inspired high-energy dance fitness program.
Fatima and her husband, Corey J. Stanford, a software
developer, are high school sweethearts who share a passion for
travel and exercise. She describes him as her best friend and
Washington, be warned-if Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford heads to the
table in the nation's capitol, there will likely be very little
sitting, no leaving early, and goals will be achieved.
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2013 Issue of IMpact
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