35 M.D. Co-Director, Childhood Asthma Initiative, New York Children’s Health Project - Montefiore Medical Center, New York City
In one translation of the Hip-pocratic Oath, the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote, “As to disease, make a habit of two things: to help, or at least to do no harm.” In the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, N.Y., where she grew up, Natalie Langston-Davis saw the exact opposite. “I remember very clearly seeing a lot of storefront medical clinics,” explains Langston-Davis, who majored in political science at Barnard College before going on to taking a doctorate in medicine. “Many of these ‘Medicaid mills’ were no more than four shallow walls made of what looked like plywood and were often located in African-American and underserved communities. It was very undignified. I remember really having a problem with that.”
Longing to right those inequities, she obtained a medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn in 1998. In 2002 she completed her pediatric residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital-New York Medical College and began an academic fellowship at Columbia University in primary care pediatrics and urban community health. This spring, Davis obtained a master’s of public health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, with a concentration in socio-medical science research.
All her academic and medical pursuits prepared her for her role as a pediatrician and clinical co-director of the Childhood Asthma Initiative of the New York Children’s Health Project. The project, part of the pediatrics department of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, provides primary care to children and their families living in homeless shelters. Davis splits her time between treating sick children in the shelters and developing methods of providing asthma treatment and prevention to children and families affected by the disease.
Davis has fulfilled her childhood dreams. “I wanted to come back into the community and be there for my people and be a face for them, especially the children; to represent the type of care they should be receiving and. . . the types of careers they could strive for,” she says.