If the stuffed Fleet enema on her desk isn’t a dead giveaway, the “cheeky” pencil holder is: We’re in the office/inner sanctum of Dr. Abier Abdelnaby, colon and rectal surgeon at UT Southwestern and soon-to-be full time UT Southwestern Frisco physician.
After a healthy but late lunch, she took a few moments to tell us about her amazing journey from Egypt to New Jersey to L.A. to the Department of Surgery at UT Southwestern.
She also professed her fascination with the GI tract and talked about how she puts patients at ease with sensitive topics like colonoscopy prep.
Where did you grow up? I’m a Jersey girl, but I was born in Egypt.
“My parents left after the 1967 war – immigration was a lot easier then. My mother went back to give birth to me and my two brothers. She wanted us to be citizens of the world. I grew up in New Jersey, but I’ve pretty much lost all of my accent.
What were you like as a kid?
I was a science geek and an eager-to-please middle child.
“I had two interests: anatomy and writing. My parents said, ‘stick with the body.’ So I did.”
Describe your path to becoming a doctor.
Undergrad at Cornell, med school and surgical residency at Howard College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., then a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at USC in Los Angeles.
“After Cornell, I spent a year in investment banking, working in the shadow of the Twin Towers. It was great for a minute, but medicine called me back. Surgery was my last rotation, and it was supposedly the most grueling, but I absolutely fell in love with the attention to detail and the precision that was required. I like to fix things.”
What is your specialty, and what drew you to it?
GI/endocrine surgery, with a focus on colon and rectal cancer.
“I became fascinated by internal medicine in med school and the GI tract, in particular. It is the common denominator of just about everything we do. It is an amazing system – one big happy factory, where every worker (the stomach, the intestines, etc.) does their part. We tend to take it for granted and think of it as one big blob. But I’ve always been fascinated by the GI tract in all of its glory.”
How long have you worked at UT Southwestern?
“Every day is a different challenge, literally. But I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy working for this institution, and I love the field of colon and rectal surgery.”