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Trailblazing Alumni Chris McCauley February 23, 2023

Drs. Stephen and Lisa Odaibo Drs. Stephen and Lisa Odaibo Drs. Stephen and Lisa Odaibo have dedicated their lives to medicine and helping others. They are also passionate about education—perhaps that’s why they have a combined six college degrees between the two of them.

Stephen earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, then went on to earn a master’s in computer science and an M.D. from Duke University. Lisa received her bachelor’s in sociology from Harvard University, then earned her M.D. from the University of North Carolina.

Lisa did her pediatrics residency at Georgetown University, while Stephen completed his internal medicine preliminary year residency at Duke University and ophthalmology residency at Howard University. He then went on to a Medical Retina Fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Through their experiences in higher education, both Odaibos developed an appreciation for the value of mathematics, computer science, and the natural sciences.

“I was committed to using mathematics in medicine to change people’s lives—to improve lives around the world,” said Stephen, CEO, founder, and chief data engineer for RETINA-AI Health, Inc. “[In addition], computer science was important because I knew very early that you need a computer to scale solutions globally.”

“I believe that medicine, specifically pediatrics, has a wonderful mix of learning about kids [and] learning about science,” said Lisa, a practicing pediatrician.

For Stephen, UAB was the ideal institution to nurture and develop the knowledge he would need to be successful in medical school. In addition, he uncovered valuable skills he would later leverage when founding RETINA-AI Health, Inc., an innovative company that has built an autonomous AI system for diabetic retinopathy screening in primary care.

“[UAB] has been life-changing, without a doubt,” said Stephen. “The things I learned at UAB are absolutely foundational. Ninety-five percent of my professional time is spent in the software world… writing code, training machine learning models, and talking about things like derivatives. For me, it’s just a matter of fact that UAB—where I learned math and calculus and I got great mentoring—was truly foundational.”

Although Lisa did not attend UAB, she has been able to visit the campus alongside Stephen several times in recent years. During these visits, she developed her own insights about the university.

“What really strikes me is the quality of the mentorship,” said Lisa. “I know the names of the people who mentored Stephen. It’s not just a professional relationship—there’s also a personal interest in the student’s being successful. You don’t see that everywhere.”

Now, the Odaibos are ready to invest in the next generation and create opportunities for more students to receive that same guidance and mentorship. Last year, they created the Stephen and Lisa Odaibo Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics to support students who major in mathematics at UAB. It was an investment they wanted to make sooner rather than later.

“We’re entering a new phase of life,” said Lisa. “It’s not just about our growth. It’s also about thinking about the next generation… What better time than now?”

For Stephen, it is an investment in the future—an investment that might lead to the next amazing discovery in mathematics.

“I hope that this money will land in the hands of someone who will go out and do great things and help a lot of people and change the world,” said Stephen. “[I hope] they see the example that I’ve been fortunate to be able set, coming from UAB. I’ve had opportunities that are unique in my career.”

Given that Stephen is a practicing ophthalmologist, a successful entrepreneur, and serves on multiple boards—including the Data Science Network—it is safe to say that he is setting a great example for future scholarship recipients.

And Lisa has some advice for students who might one day receive the scholarship and graduate from UAB.

“Pause and think about what your unique gifts and talents are and what your unique contribution should be to the world,” said Lisa.

The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Mathematics thank both Stephen and Lisa Odaibo for their generous gift.

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