Alumni Spotlight

Ifeanyi Anidi ’96

Dr. Ifeanyi Anidi ’96 feels “lucky and blessed” to be caring for patients with COVID-19 in the ICU at the National Institutes of Health. In his work as a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow, the Steppingstone Alumnus takes care, too, to support families who often haven’t seen loved ones for days on end.

At NIH, he’s also in one of the centers of cutting-edge research, including work on the headline-making antiviral drug, remdesivir. With his own research into immune response to tuberculosis put on hold, he’s weighing how he can help in answering research questions raised by the novel virus. For Ifeanyi, that’s the “question of the hour.”

Inspired by his family’s Nigerian roots, the Roxbury Latin and Yale grad became fascinated with studying diseases endemic to Africa while earning his M.D. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins. His Ph.D. dissertation research involving malaria’s effect on the lungs influenced his ongoing study of TB, the “world’s #1 cause of death” from a single infectious agent, he notes.

As both a clinician and a researcher, he knows that there’s still much to learn.

Amid the pandemic, Ifeanyi’s clinical expertise has brought him to the front lines of patient care and meant a much more active role in communicating with families.

“Everything is changing rapidly,” he says, even how he examines patients. Wearing so much personal protective equipment, for example, he can’t use a stethoscope.

What’s made a lasting impression has been seeing “how quickly people decompensate before our eyes,” going from being reasonably stable to needing intensive support. As he puts it, “we take care of people on the precipice and try to prevent them from crashing.”

It’s emotionally draining, he admits. Knowing he can make a concrete difference in the lives of patients and families keeps him going.

The battle-tested team around him also gets him through. Many of his colleagues have experience combating Ebola and other dangerous outbreaks.

At the end of the day, he’s grateful to come home to his fiancée, who faces her own risks as a pediatrician. He stays close to his four siblings (three of whom are also Steppingstone Alumni)  and parents via their family Zoom calls. He almost missed one Sunday session but, drained as he felt in the moment, he’s thankful that “I got my act together and made it.”

Ifeanyi’s still constantly learning. By nature, he craves structure and routine. In the hospital these days, when something isn’t working, they may need to change course on the fly. “This entire pandemic is a lesson in being adaptable,” he says.