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Observations BMJ Confidential

Tolu Oni: Working on Africa’s health

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 20 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l653
Duncan Smith


Tolu Oni, 38, is a clinical senior research associate at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. Born in Lagos, she qualified in medicine at University College London and worked for 11 years in South Africa, where she focused on public health and patterns of disease in an urbanising society. She completed her research doctorate in clinical epidemiology at Imperial College London in 2012. She is a fellow of the Next Einstein Forum, an organisation aiming to turn Africa into a global hub for science and technology.

What would you say to your former student self?

People give the impression of knowing a lot more than they do, so don’t worry about asking stupid questions. Embrace the road less travelled, and don’t worry about the raised eyebrows you get along the way.

What was your earliest ambition?

To become a paediatric cardiologist, long before I knew it meant being a doctor. I saw a documentary about open heart surgery on a child when I was about 8, and I thought, “Yup, I want to do that.”

Summarise your personality in three words

A dear friend once summarised me as small, black, and 100 decibels. …

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