Black physicist develops cancer-killing technology
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in America. She is also the recent winner of $1.1 million [£815m] grant to further develop a technology that kills cancer cells.
The technology she has pioneered uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer. Green, who lost her parents young, was raised by her aunt and uncle. While still at school, her aunt died from cancer, and three months later her uncle was diagnosed with cancer, too.
Green went on to earn her degree in physics at Alabama A&M University, being crowned Homecoming Queen while she was at it. She went on full scholarship to University of Alabama in Birmingham to earn her Masters and Ph.D.
It was at University of Alabama where Green became the first to work out how to deliver nanoparticles into cancer cells exclusively. The cancer cells would be removed by a laser after the nanoparticles are activated through heating. She successfully carried out her treatment on living animals.
As she takes on her growing responsibilities, Green still makes time to speak at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth events.
“Young black girls don’t see those role models (scientists) as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj,” Green said.
“It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more. I’m really hoping this can change the way we treat cancer in America. There are so many people who only get a three-month or six-month survival benefit from the drugs they take.
“Then three or six months later, they’re sent home with no hope, nothing else we can do. Those are the patients I want to try to save, the ones where regular medicine isn’t effective for them.”
“As a physicist I’ve created a physical treatment that is not specific to the biology of the cancer. It’s a platform technology. It’s not cancer type–specific, though it can treat the cancer specifically. That’s a concept my friends who are biologists struggle with.”