Rare Rising Stars celebrates the UK’s most ambitious and talented African and Caribbean university students. It aims to share positive stories about black students, inspiring the next generation and providing them with access to role models.
Fourth year Medicine student Tony Okafor has been named one of the UK’s top 10 Rare Rising Stars for his dedication to making medical services more accessible.
After beginning a degree in Engineering at University College Dublin, Tony dropped out to re-take his Leaving Certificate (A-Level equivalent) so that he could pursue his dream career in medicine. After a year of intensive study and hard work, he landed a place to study at the University of Nottingham.
On a visit back to Ireland, Tony was hit by tragedy when his uncle went into cardiac arrest and died in front of his family while the ambulance was on its way. With a keen understanding of both engineering and medicine, Tony was inspired to get involved in using AI to bring about a medical breakthrough. He began a conversation with the Department of Aerospace Engineering about deploying drones with the regional ambulance unit to deliver defibrillators, and supply live interactive monitoring of emergency scenes.
Tony went on to attend AI Med Europe – a summit for medical professionals – and found himself in a session where an investor challenged audience members to present an idea that needed funding. He pitched his idea to policymakers, industry giants and clinical specialists from around the world, and it was received with applause. Two months later he was shortlisted as a top ten qualifier for the GIANT Health Event’s Beanstalks competition.
Next Tony turned his attention to using smartphones to democratise access to health services, creating Horus; a digital venture to help people take control of their healthcare by interacting with services around the nation in minutes, rather than waiting months to see a specialist. Tony was invited to an MIT hackathon to pitch Horus, and his team reached the semi-final of the 2019 Mayor of London Entrepreneurship competition. Backed by the University, the IngenuityLab and the East Midland Academic Health Science Network, the product is now in pre-launch testing and consultation with medical professionals.
Alongside his studies, Tony has conducted complex data analyses in brain tumour outcomes and symptomatic presentations, and ran a successful campaign to incorporate virtual 3D anatomy teaching into the School of Medicine’s curriculum.
On behalf of everyone at the University of Nottingham, we’d like to congratulate Tony on this recognition and all of his inspiring hard work and dedication to improving medical access for all.
Find out more about Rare Rising Stars.
Posted on Monday 22nd July 2019