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The Candidate: Nche Zama, MD, PhD

Updated: Feb 6

As a teenager, Dr. Nche Zama came to the United States on a student visa with just $20 in his pocket. He was homeless for a while until a compassionate person took him in and helped guide him on his journey to the American Dream.

Dr. Zama was the second of six children, raised in grass huts by illiterate but hardworking parents who instilled within him the values of discipline, pragmatism, and community. When he witnessed the preventable and horrific death of his mother during childbirth due to the lack of access to a doctor and proper medical care, his life’s purpose shifted forever. His father sold his property, so young Zama could travel to America for a better education.

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 Today, Nche Zama, MD, PhD, is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon who completed training at the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard University. He holds a PhD in chemistry, a Harvard master’s degree in management, and a medical degree.

He is recognized as one of the top cardiothoracic surgeons in the country and is often sought out for his expertise. He has held positions across Pennsylvania as Director of the ESSA Heart and Vascular Institute in East Stroudsburg, Director of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Jefferson Aria Health in Philadelphia, Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, and has been a Staff Cardiothoracic Surgeon for Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport and York Hospital in York. He founded a humanitarian organization to provide medical and surgical care to the poor and disadvantaged. On one of his global humanitarian missions, he performed the first pediatric cardiac surgery in his native country of Cameroon.

Valuing education, he has financially supported over two dozen of his nieces and nephews through college, provides financial support for an entire elementary school for poor children, and as vice chair of an American educational empowerment organization he has contributed to the construction of a new academy in Africa to train innovative thinkers and future leaders. He has also served as a Clinical Associate Professor at Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Besides his extensive humanitarian efforts, Dr. Zama enjoys reading, traveling, music, hiking, running, and learning new languages—adding to the six he already speaks. He enjoys spending time with his children, grandchildren, and family.

Connect with Dr. Zama

Website: Dr. Zama’s Book: Mommy, Please Don’t Die Dr. Zama on Facebook Dr. Zama on Twitter

Notable quotes from Dr. Zama’s interview:

I espouse transparency, accountability, and integrity.
You cannot dismiss a 14 year old boy who’s been bitten by snakes, living in a grass hut.
I want to contribute to that better future for our children.
We’ve all had that moment when God speaks to us and God spoke to me.
This is how bad the state of affairs are: people tell me I’m too intelligent to be governor.

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