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Faculty Focus: Matthew Obinna Nwaneri, MBBS

Date: Monday, August 20, 2018

Matthew Obinna NwaneriWhat is your hometown?

My adopted home town is Saint Paul, Minnesota. I was born in Nigeria.

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

I became interested in science and mathematics in high school.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

I trained here at the University of Iowa as a fellow in the late 1998 to 2001; returned as faculty in May 2016

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

I had a wonderful and enjoyable experience as a fellow trainee and felt that at this stage of my career; and with my experience I can make a difference for persons and families with cancer in Iowa and in my role as the Iowa Oncology Network Director, as part of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

It is difficult to attribute my career experiences and what has shaped it to one or a few mentors over these many years of training and experience. The list is long starting from my high school geography teacher: Mr Ogbue (who encouraged me to push my curious mind and explore) in Federal Government College, Lagos, Nigeria; Drs. Aghaji, Kaine and Ojukwu at the University of Nigeria, Enugu; Drs. Tom Flynn, P J Flynn, Burt Schwartz, Marty Oken at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis (encouraged me to study Hematology and Oncology), and Drs.  G. Clamon, R. Hohl, D. Macfarlane, S. Lentz, and C. Riggs at the University of Iowa; most recently. They all have given me the training and confidence to help master a very complicated and complex art of Hematology and Medical Oncology practice.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

My duties entail direct contact with patients with serious/life threatening disease. The rapidly changing pace of the treatments and the scientific advances available for treatment needs to be communicated in an understandable and acceptable way to the patient and  their families.  In this, I periodically have fellows who are taught how to interact with the patients at multiple levels and communicate the therapeutic options and plan for their care.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Significant improvement in advanced breast cancer patients’ survival over the past two decades and rapid information technological advancements with easy availability of electronic medical records - 24/7 from virtually any location via the Internet.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Continue to learn throughout your career and do not be bashful about taking on new roles. Keep up with changes occurring around you.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)? 

The limitation of the cancer care that rural Iowans receive and the manpower limitations of same overlaps with my usual duties (I do multiple oncology outreach clinics) and this is an area that has continued to give me concern. Internationally, I visit St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria once or twice a year; to see cancer patients and teach doctors on management of cancer patients. I have an interest in breast cancer in Africa (Nigerian) women and as part of this continuing to collaborate with one of my class mates at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital on how we can improve care. I am working on speaking with one of the sororities on campus (Iowa City) on breast cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I currently have some medical students and young trainees (resident doctors) across the US who I continue to advise and mentor early in their careers in Medicine and they continuously give me great joy. I am always open to be a guide on this journey which tends to be long and hard. I am always open to becoming a mentor.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

I am an avid Hawkeye football fan (Go Hawks!) and my Minnesota Vikings will one day win the Super Bowl!