Courage and Confidence since 1880


Black Student Union Welcomes Neuroscientist Dr. Sade Iriah

To celebrate Black History Month, the Black Student Union welcomed accomplished neuroscientist Dr. Sade Iriah to NCDS to speak to the Upper School about her experiences in her academic, athletic, and professional careers. Originally from Toronto, CA, Dr. Iriah played Division I basketball at Northeastern University and graduated with a degree in Neuroscience. She went on to earn her Master's in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. 

Dr. Iriah faced challenges in her collegiate athletic career after she tore both her meniscus and ACL twice, requiring several surgeries and ending her basketball career. While taking prescribed medication for her injuries, she took an interest in how they affect the brain. She went on to choose this topic for her doctoral research, focusing on the neurological and behavioral effects of opioids. 

Dr. Iriah has since published research papers on a range of neurological topics, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, and addiction; topics, she explained, that most people don’t address until they or someone they love is directly impacted. “I noticed this and thought, ‘I could have an impact here. I’m genuinely interested in this.’”

She shared that she owes her professional work ethic to the determination she developed on the basketball court. “I wouldn't be the scientist I am today if I wasn’t the athlete that I was back then,” she shared. “I was hard-working and active in my athletic development, and those practices have translated to my professional career.” Skills she learned on the court, in tandem with good mental health practices, prepared her well for balancing school, sports, and a social life in college, and have assisted her in every area of her life.

Dr. Iriah shared that people frequently placed her in a box as a woman in sports, expecting her to act or dress a certain way, but she takes pride in defying stereotypes by following her passions and constantly trying new things. “I love when my friends say, ‘You never know what Sade is going to do next.’ The world puts enough limitations on you. It’s important to have an inner circle that encourages me to do the things that I’m interested in,” she shared. “As young women, do it all. At this age, whatever random thing you want to pursue, just do it.” 

Constantly learning and growing at work is of utmost importance for Dr. Iriah, and she feels lucky to work in a field that allows her to intake new information every day. “We’re always working with new drugs, and even if you fail, you get to see the potential of science. I didn’t want a job that felt monotonous. Even when we conduct studies and get results, we have to consider if these results apply to everyone or just one group of people. There is some science and some issues that may be getting overlooked, and I am in the position to further investigate, to make sure that all subsets are represented.”

Currently, Dr. Iriah serves as a Study Director of Nuclear Medicine and Discovery Research at a prominent biotech company based in Boston, and she works to merge her love for neuroscience and athletics through collaborating with the Patriots and the Celtics.