Ogori N. Kalu, M.D.
Summit Breast Cancer L.L.C., Sparta, N.J.
Medical Director, Mountainside Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center,
Dr. Ogori N. Kalu, whose last name is that of the god of thunder in the mythology of the Igbo people of Nigeria, is a first-generation American born to Nigerian parents. The second of four, she knew from a young age that her hands were meant for healing. Her mother was a pharmacist; her father an economics professor. “My favorite game as a child was “Operation,” so being a doctor was the only profession I thought of for myself.” Today, Kalu, 36, is a breast surgeon at Summit Breast Cancer L.L.C. and the medical director at Mountainside Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center in Montclair, N.J., where she is charged with increasing outreach and breast-cancer awareness to the community’s diverse residents. “[My patients] are happy in seeing another woman who is experienced and knowledgeable, even though I look very young!”
Before Kalu graduated from Temple University in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and African studies, her mother was diagnosed with leukemia, which spurred her interest in oncology. She attended New York Medical College, where she received her master’s in biochemistry in 2001 and her Doctor of Medicine in 2004. During her surgical rotation in medical school, she discovered that she liked using her hands and focused her residency on surgical oncology. In 2009, she spent a year as a breast surgery oncology fellow at Stanford University Medical Center, conducting research on the prevalence of an aggressive form of breast cancer among young African-American women. “As a surgeon, I try to educate minority women about these triple negative tumors and the need for them to have mammograms,” she explains.
In her spare time, she likes to read books about women’s struggles — whether they’re international or historic — or catching up on her favorite soap operas on cable TV. “They’re my guilty pleasure,” she says.
First job: Work study in genetics
Favorite book: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
Favorite food: Anything spicy