Alexa Canady – Black History Month

Dr. Alexa Canady

Dr. Alexa Canady is considered one of the many black woman game changers in STEM! She is best known as the first woman and  African-American neurosurgeon in 1980. She would dedicate her life to pedriatic patients in several states until she retired in 2001.


Canady was raised in Lansing, Michigan, where she and her brother were only two African-American students in their school. They faced obstacles through their years, however, Canada stood out from her peers, and even nominated as a National Achievement Scholar. Dr. Canady attended the University of Michigan where she received her B.S. degree in zoology. She later received her M.D. with cum laude honors from the University of Michigan Medical School. Then, she became the first black and female surgical intern at the Yale-New Haven Hospital.


In 1980, she became the first African-American neurosurgeon and dedicated her career to pediatric patients in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Michigan. Four years later, Canady was certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, another first for a female African American. In 1987, she became Chief of Neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She specialized in congenital spinal abnormalities, hydrocephalus, trauma and brain tumors. Her reputation as Chief made her department one of the best in the country.

Awards and Honors

Canady was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989 and received the American Medical Women’s Association President’s Award. She also received a Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

She was also given three honorary degrees – doctor of humane letters honorary degrees from the University of Detroit-Mercy (1997) and Roosevelt University(2014), and a doctor of science from the University of Southern Connecticut (1999).