November 7, 1950 Alexa Canady, the first African American female neurosurgeon, was born in Lansing, Michigan.
Canady earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1971 and her medical degree cum laude in 1975 from the University of Michigan. In 1976, she became the first black female to enter the field of neurosurgery as a physician in training. In 1983, Canady joined the staff of Children’s Hospital of Michigan and by 1987 she was head of the neurosurgery department and performing a dozen surgeries a week.
Her areas of expertise included cranio-facial abnormalities, hydrocephalus, tumors of the brain, and congenital spine abnormalities. Canady began teaching at the Wayne State University Medical School in 1985 and became professor of neurosurgery in 1997. Canady retired in 2001. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989 and was named Woman of the Year by the American Women’s Medical Association in 1993.