Clinical Fellow Rotimi Mesubi

180410 MESUBI rotimi_8457

I was lucky to be born into a family where my parents are science educators. My dad was a college chemistry professor and my mom a high school chemistry teacher who later became a vice principal. Growing up, I remember spending some of my after-school hours with my siblings (two younger brothers and a younger sister) in my Dad’s lab. It was so fascinating to see him and his graduate students conduct their science experiments. I went into medicine because my parents encouraged me to be a physician. But I have always been interested in science and understanding how things work.

By the time I finished medical school in Nigeria [Mesubi graduated top of his class], the big health care problem we faced was the burgeoning HIV and AIDS epidemic in sub-Sahara Africa. A significant number of people were getting diagnosed, but there were no affordable or readily available treatments.

I came to the United States in 2003, for a Master in Public Health program at Harvard University, with a focus on improving the response to HIV/AIDS treatment in Africa. I worked for two years after my MPH training on a government-funded program that provided unprecedented access to HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries. I became interested in cardiology during the second year of residency training at Case Western Reserve University (MetroHealth) in Ohio, while on my first cardiac intensive care unit rotation. I was fascinated by how sick people were when they came into the cardiac unit and what you could do for them, for instance someone presenting with a heart attack, you could fix the problem by putting in a stent with dramatic results.

One of the reasons I insisted on coming to the U.S. for my postgraduate training was that I hoped to be in an environment where I could not only see patients but also do research at the same time.

I started out my cardiology fellowship at the University of Iowa and was about to start the research component of the fellowship in Dr. Mark Anderson’s lab (my mentor), when he was recruited as the William Osler Professor of Medicine and the director of the Department of Medicine here at Johns Hopkins. He invited me to come along so I could start my proposed research in his lab here at the school of medicine.

When I arrived at Johns Hopkins, I worked mostly on my research in the lab. I was on an institutional training grant (T32) from the NIH during the 3 years of my research fellowship, which I completed last year. I transitioned back to the clinical arena where I am currently specializing in clinical cardiac electrophysiology. This is a sub-specialty of cardiology that focuses on the managing electrical problems of the heart, such as putting in pacemakers, defibrillators or treating with medications or procedures abnormal heart rhythms.

On a typical workday, I get to the hospital at about 6.45 a.m. to see the first patient assigned to me for their scheduled procedure that day. I still have on-going projects in the basic science lab and try to find time after my regular day or during protected research time to continue my research pursuits.

One of the electrical problems of the heart that people experience is called atrial fibrillation – an abnormal fast rhythm in the top chambers of the heart that affects a large portion of the population. Currently, our treatment options for this condition, such as medications and ablation procedures, have limited efficacy. My research is focused on trying to better understand the mechanisms that promote atrial fibrillation. If we understand this better, we may find better ways to treat this condition. Diabetes increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, and I have focused my studies in diabetic mice as a tool to understand how atrial fibrillation occurs. That research is what earned me the American Heart Association Melvin L. Marcus Young Investigator Award.

Empathy is the word that most describes my approach to patient care. It comes from a few things. My mom about nine to 10 years ago experienced kidney failure, but was fortunate enough to have a kidney transplant from a kidney donated by one of my brothers.. I’ve also been a patient on several occasions. I think until you’ve been on the other side, it’s very easy to not realize that things that may be straightforward to you as a physician or health care provider, many times are scary and uncharted territory of the patient.

People come to us in electrophysiology with abnormal, complex problems that have to do with the electrical system of the heart, and they’re anxious about going through the procedure and think of all the potential things that could go wrong. It brings me joy to see their joy and relief when their procedure is successful.

From a lab standpoint, it’s a lot of hard work and you spend a lot of time doing an experiment and things don’t work. But those times when you get a result or get an insight, it’s hard to describe the feeling you get. I think ‘Eureka’ is the word that describes it best.

I live in Baltimore County with my wife and 5-year-old daughter who is so full of life and energy, we can hardly keep up with her. We have another girl on the way! My wife, who is a public health epidemiologist, and I met at the University of Maryland while we were both working on a grant to provide HIV/AIDS treatment in several African and Caribbean countries. In my spare time, I follow cricket avidly.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (6 votes cast)

Clinical Fellow Rotimi Mesubi, 5.0 out of 5 based on 6 ratings


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Fausat Sulaiman April 17, 2018 at 11:32 am

I am glad to read your story and proud of you not only as a fellow Nigerian but as an health care provider who is driven by empathy in his choices. I pray for your continued success and for your children to also make you proud (Amen).

I know you have worked hard for where you are in life and taken every opportunity that comes your way. Pass on the role of your mentors by mentoring orders.

Best wishes,


Pauline Esoga April 17, 2018 at 9:37 am

a very interesting story to read from one of my own people. iam not surprised about your passion, dedication and commitment . this is what good Nigerians are made of. good family upbringing happens in the average Middle class Nigerian family. do not forget your initial passion , HIV. AIDS is still a problem in Nigeria and the sub-Saharan region, cardiac issues is also a problem. in what ever way you can assist , even an annual seminar educational conference for health care providers in Lagos or any city, will be helpful to assist in health education and promotion.
thank you my brother , ride on and God bless you and family.


Cynthia Tomlin April 17, 2018 at 9:02 am

A great inspiring article. I have a lot of respect for this sub specialty. I am seen annually by a Dr. who specialize in Electrophysiology. This article gave me information and helped me to hold my Dr. in higher esteem. One visit to him in 2006, with a high heart rate; he diagnosed my condition and by the next month in 2007 I had an ablation, and has had no other problems.


Charles Grant, CPC April 17, 2018 at 8:30 am

As I have begun my second career, I read these inspiring articles everyday to keep motivated. I am very impressed with Dr. Mesubi and his work here at Johns Hopkins. Because of what I just read, I am even more motivated. Thanks Dr. Mesubi.


Ruth Ebilene April 17, 2018 at 6:43 am

Wow!!!!!!!! What an interesting and educating information from the Doc from my motherland. Continue to wax stronger and greater. More grace Doc.Rotimi!!!!!!!.


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