Class of 1988 Alumna Will Share Her Experiences with Students to Inform and Inspire Their Career Exploration through Reinvigorated Program

Nadia Biassou (AMHERST, Mass., March 14, 2019) — Renowned diagnostic neuroradiologist Nadia Biassou, a member of Amherst College’s class of 1988, has been named a Wade Fellow at the school for the 2019-21 academic years. The appointment will bring Biassou to campus during the academic year with the goal of sharing her extensive experiences with students to help them learn how identity informs career exploration and to collaborate on programming that teaches them skills for navigating a complex professional world before and after graduation. Her term begins in fall 2019, and the Wade Fellowship programming is open to all Amherst students. 

“I am so honored to have been selected to serve as the next Amherst Wade Fellow,” said Biassou, who currently is a Senior Research Physician in the Radiology and Imaging Sciences Department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. “Amherst afforded me such a rare and extraordinary opportunity to explore a topic on the neuroscience of language that became my lifelong work and passion. I hope to help more students focus on finding their own voice as the basis for defining their life’s work and careers.”

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Biassou as our next distinguished Wade Fellow,” said Dr. Norm Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the College. “Her compelling personal story has tremendously informed her professional story, and I'm very excited about her willingness to talk about her many life lessons—both the struggles and the successes—which will provide powerful testimony to our students about how each of them can learn and grow and accomplish in a challenging and changing world. This program is an excellent example of how generously Amherst alumni give back to the College in a wide variety of ways.”

This fall, for the first time, the Wade Fellowship program will include six Amherst student fellows, who will serve as ambassadors to other Amherst students and support their career exploration activities, including research projects, professional networking, and national organizations and events of interest, among other needs.

Biassou joins an impressive list of former Wade Fellows, most recently Harvard University Assistant Professor of Education Anthony Jack, Amherst class of 2007 and author of the acclaimed new book, The Privileged Poor. Other notable past Wade Fellows include: Kimberlyn Leary, Associate Professor of Psychology at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Hugh Price, Commissioner, National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development for the Aspen Institute and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League; and Kellie Jones, Professor in Art History and Archaeology and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University, among others.

In addition to her NIH responsibilities, Biassou has taught and mentored numerous physicians-in-training from George Washington University Hospital, where she serves as Clinical Professor of Radiology, and Georgetown University Hospital, where she is a member of the core faculty in the division of neuroradiology. She also lectures around the world. In addition to her work as a physician, Biassou is a trained linguist and obtained her master’s and doctorate in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. She specialized in the relationship between brain and language and studied under the tutelage of renowned neuroscientists Professors Jean-Luc Nespoulous of the University of Toulouse (France); Loraine Obler of the Boston University School of Medicine; and Murray Grossman and Mark Liberman of the University of Pennsylvania. Biassou went on to study medicine at the University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine, graduating with distinction in internal medicine and neurology. She is one of less than a handful of cognitive neuroscientists worldwide to have achieved training in both medicine and linguistics. She is the only African American female in the nation with combined formalized training in medicine, biomedical imaging and linguistics and cognitive science. Biassou collaborates in numerous cutting-edge interdisciplinary research with other federal agencies, universities and industries.  She was appointed as a Senior Fellow to the Linguistics Data Consortium at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

The Wade Fellowship was launched in 1976 to expose Amherst students to the successful and rewarding careers of notable black alumni. It is named after Harold Wade of the Amherst class of 1968, who, after graduating with honors from the College, enrolled at Harvard Law School but tragically drowned just before his 26th birthday. At that time, he was working on the groundbreaking book, Black Men of Amherst. Wade’s mother and a group of friends and classmates finished the book, which was published by the Amherst Press in 1976.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.