The experiences of family members affected by epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder led Dr. Dominique Cooper to her interest in the brain and neurology. This inspired her to focus on helping those with neurological diagnoses.
What this award means: I have wanted to be a child neurologist for almost a decade now, so I am deeply honored to be recognized for my passion for caring for patients with neurological conditions.
Mentor comment: Dominique is one of the most enthusiastic students I have ever met who was a ray of sunshine during COVID-19. She was very polite and respectful with patients, a diligent worker, and well-organized in her presentations in rounds. She will be an exceptional physician. – Shanan Munoz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology
Background and family: I am from Houston, Texas, but I spent a lot of my childhood living in Lagos, Nigeria, and Luanda, Angola. I come from a large and supportive family.
What led to your career path: I first became interested in the brain through family members’ experiences involving neurological disorders. My interest was furthered when I attended a neuroscience research camp in high school where I learned about health disparities in neurology affecting the Black community.
College: I graduated with honors from Stanford University with a degree in neurobiology. In college, I participated in childhood brain tumor research and published my first article. I also received the Award of Excellence for my dedication to community service as an undergrad.
UTSW activities: I served as the chapter president of the Student National Medical Association and on the leadership board for the Student Interest Group in Neurology. I also conducted clinical and basic science research in epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders. My third year, I served on an American Academy of Neurology workgroup focused on increasing diversity in neurology.
Surprising fact: I competitively recited poetry when I was in high school, and I still participate in acting and poetry activities for fun.
Ultimate career goal: In child neurology, some patients have very complex diagnoses that affect both their brain and quality of life. I want to ensure that these patients and their families feel well cared for and supported. My goal is to decrease the health disparities affecting patients with neurological conditions.
Future plans: I will complete my residency training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Currently, I am considering a fellowship in epilepsy genetics. I want to combine my interests in clinical research and advocacy to effect policy changes and continue to work to increase diversity in the field.
About the award: This award is presented to a student who is deemed worthy of special distinction by the Medical School Awards Committee of the Department of Neurology and is beginning a career in pediatric neurology.