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Local doctor becomes first Black woman to lead neurosurgery department at Detroit Medical Center

Feb 9, 2021

DETROIT – One local doctor is making history in the Motor City by becoming the first Black woman to lead the adult sector of the neurosurgery department with the Detroit Medical Center.

Dr. Sonia Eden works at the DMC Harper University Hospital and has accomplished several “firsts” in the medical field in the region.

“I have come to Detroit to invest in the city that invested heavily in me,” Dr. Eden said.

After working in a private practice in Kalamazoo for the last 12 years, Dr. Eden says it feels good to be back home in Detroit. She’s now the new Chief of Neurosurgery at the DMC Harper University Hospital.

“This is where my heart is. This is where my home is,” Eden said. “It means a lot to come back and help in the growth of a program and something great for the citizens of Detroit.”

Dr. Eden says it’s no secret that there are few minorities in the medical field -- but when it comes to neurosurgeons, that number is almost non-existent.

“About 8 percent are women. Of those women, approximately 33 are African Americans,” Eden said. “African American women in neurosurgery make up approximately 0.5 percent of neurosurgeons in this country.”

The Detroit doctor says her journey began when she was just four years old. She used to perform pretend brain surgeries on her mother when she had migraines.

Since then, she had the honor of reaching several “first” milestones in Michigan and beyond.

“I was the first African American woman to train in neurological surgery and do a residency at the University of Michigan,” Dr. Eden said. “I was one of the first mechanical engineering women of color at Yale University, when I went there.”

And now she is the first woman of color to “be a leader” in the adult sector of the DMC’s neurosurgery department, she says.

Still, the Detroit doctor wants her role at the hospital to go beyond that milestone.

“I’m here to show every little girl out there that you can be whatever you want to be, you just set your mind forward and work hard, and you can do it,” Eden said.

Dr. Eden says she is also passionate about addressing health disparities in Detroit.


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