Intended for healthcare professionals


Paul Godley: oncologist, epidemiologist, researcher, and photographer

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 14 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2174
  1. Rebecca Wallersteiner
  1. wallersteiner{at}
Credit: University of North Carolina

Paul Alphonso Godley was born in Detroit, Michigan, in the US, the son of Alegro J Godley, an internist, and his wife, Juanita, a nurse. He grew up in a home where medicine was discussed every day. The studious young Godley was educated at the Friends School in Detroit, where he excelled at science and developed a love for music and the visual arts. While Godley was working towards his MD, his mother died from colon cancer, influencing his choice of specialty and sparking an ongoing research interest in cancer prevention. He became a world class oncologist and cancer researcher, and a professor in the department of medicine at the University of North Carolina (UCN) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine—the first African-American to do so. He dedicated his life to compassionate care for patients with prostate cancer.


He married Adaora Adimora, an infectious disease physician, who also became an epidemiologist. He was a devoted husband and loving father. An adventurous traveller, he visited six continents with his family, and it was through his travels that he honed his passion for photography.

“Paul was friendly and had a great sense of humour; but he was not loquacious, and chose his words carefully, which, along with his demeanour, gave them that much more weight in …

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