Ignite | Spring 2022

PRINCESS OGBOGU: Thinking Locally, Acting Nationally

When Princess Ogbogu, M.D. (’00),  was recruited to University Hospitals (UH) in Cleveland, her mission was clear: to build. UH had never before had a division of pediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology, and Dr. Ogbogu was appointed as its inaugural chief.  

Princess Ogbogu, M.D.The timing was tricky. Dr. Ogbogu started in August 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown — “a wild time to transition everything,” the outgoing leader said cheerfully, in an interview. But growing clinical and research programs at UH within the fields of allergy/immunology and pediatric rheumatology has been “really, really fun and engaging,” says Dr. Ogbogu, because it has brought her in contact with so many different stakeholders.

“Part of being a transformational leader is identifying who the stakeholders are,” she noted. “That takes some time and some relationship building, right? Especially when you're coming in from the outside trying to figure out what needs to be done.”

She began with a division of one. The team will soon become  a division of six, serving the academic center in three ways: providing clinical care, educating medical students, residents and fellows; providing community engagement and education; and building the research program. Regarding the research aspect, Dr. Ogbogu adds, “We want to be able to offer innovative therapeutic options to patients — options that they may not be able to get otherwise.” Much of her own clinical research focuses on clinical trials with immune therapeutics (biologics) for allergic and immunologic disorders.

Making a national impact

After graduating from NEOMED and completing an allergy/immunology training fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Ogbogu served as the division chief of Allergy/Immunology and co-training program director of the Allergy Immunology Fellowship Program at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Today,  she contributes to national discussions on policies and advocates for her specialty. Dr. Ogbogu sits on the Allergy/Immunology Review Committee for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which centers on ensuring adequate training standards. And she’s serving a six-year term on the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI), which she will chair next year.

“It's important to have a seat at the table where decisions are being made,” she says. “When you're taking care of a patient, you may be able to help one person. If you're doing research, you may be able to help several people. If you're working on national committees, you may be able to help thousands or millions of people.”

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