Yolanda C. Wade

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35 M.D.  Staff Physician-Principal Investigator – Rutgers University Health Services, New Brunswick, N.J.

Yolanda C. Wade, M.D.’s life story is one of endurance and faith. She was raised by her mother, who juggled several jobs to make ends meet. By the age of 7, Wade was commuting more than an hour each way to private schools. Desiring something more ethnically comfortable, she chose to do her undergraduate degree at Spelman College. While there, Wade leapt at the chance to study at the University of Lancaster in Britain, but didn’t have enough money to do so. Rather than pass up the opportunity, she lived out of her backpack and slept on trains.

Wade continued her education at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School. During her residency, she became the first African-American chief resident in a primary medical specialty at Beth Israel Medical Center. Wade went on to complete two international health rotations—in American Samoa, where she was responsible for all hospital units, and in Tanzania, where she concentrated on obstetrics. Upon returning to the United States, she joined Urban Horizons, a nonprofit project in the South Bronx that provided education, housing, job training and health care to disadvantaged, often homeless, women and their families.

Eventually, Wade accepted an invitation to take over the fledgling human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine clinical trials at Rutgers University. HPV can lead to cervical cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. Now 35 and staff physician-principal investigator at Rutgers University Health Services, Wade is at the forefront of research on HPV. She still has daily responsibilities as a physician, and recently started a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Albert Einstein Medical College.

Wade says she gets her drive and spirit from her single mother, who went on to earn a graduate degree while raising Wade. Believing there is much more for her to learn and to give, she says to all, “Please be patient with me.God is not through with me yet.”