Pediatric cardiologist, Houston, Texas

The child of a Mexican father and a Brazilian mother who met in an English class in Chicago, Keila Natilde Lopez has always wanted to be a doctor. But Hispanic doctors are rare: In her class at the University of Illinois, 10 Hispanic students started out as premed majors; two made it to medical school. At graduation from med school, she was the last one standing.

“Throughout the entire process, I felt an urge that there are so few of me that make it—I can’t just be the doctor that sees one kid at a time, so I have to do more.”

During her residency, a flier came across her desk. “God is kind of funny,” Lopez recalls. It said something like: “Do you feel like you want to do something more?” It advertised a minority health policy program at Harvard.

After graduating from the program, she felt so inspired that she almost abandoned cardiology for public health. Instead, she discovered how to apply her knowledge with the passion she gained.

Next, she began a fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine, where she noticed a pattern in her patients. “How come the kids that I see that have this problem are all Latino?” Lopez wondered. Today, she explores what might be causing a cluster of cases of congenital heart disease among Latinos.

Lopez has now seen over 1,000 patients, beginning in utero through an infant surgery. As some of her patients are growing into their teen years, she noted that depression, anxiety, or ADHD are high among kids with congenital heart disease or cardiac arrythmias. Further, “rates of anxiety and depression are substantially lower if you’re black, Hispanic, or Asian, which may mean an under recognition ...

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