SMC grad serving patients at the Cleveland Clinic Las Vegas

Published 1:42 pm Thursday, December 3, 2020

DOWAGIAC — Despite a sparkling academic record, Joel Adu-Brimpong did not expect to attend college. He applied to Southwestern Michigan College as a favor to his high school guidance counselor.

Not only did Adu-Brimpong earn an associate degree in 2012 in life and environmental sciences as a pre-medical student, he went on to a bachelor’s degree in biopsychology and a master’s degree in health informatics from the University of Michigan.

As a research fellow at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., he co-authored scientific papers on social determinants of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

After interning with the Cleveland Clinic, he became program manager at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, an iconic structure designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry that appears to be deflating.

Adu-Brimpong attended Berrien Springs High School, where he was a good student with a high grade-point average, belonged to National Honor Society, was dual-enrolled in college and graduated in the top 10 of his class.

“It was difficult to consider higher education with my existing financial constraints,” he said. “Frankly, I also didn’t know a lot about the college application process. For example, I learned about the ACT about a week or two before I took it. One day, while speaking with our guidance counselor, she asked me where I was planning on going for college. I told her I hadn’t applied. She asked me to do her a favor and at least apply to the community college at which I was dual-enrolled. Luckily enough, there was a bit of time left in the application process, so I applied to SMC. I was fortunate to get into SMC that summer with a great financial package. I knew I was interested in health care, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do.”

Adu-Brimpong said everything he has accomplished springs from his SMC roots.

“This favor changed my life,” he said. “Not only did SMC provide me with full tuition, but SMC set the groundwork and provided me with fundamental knowledge that I expounded on [at U of M and NIH.]”

He said the education and support he received from professors such as Thomas Beaven, Anna Norris and Keith Howell helped him along his journey.

“As a result of my time at SMC, I was able to go on to obtain higher education, accomplish my subsequent achievements and pursue my current career goals,” he said.

Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, completed in May 2010, is an outpatient treatment and research facility in downtown Las Vegas. It provides expert diagnosis and treatment for individuals and families living with cognitive (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) and movement (e.g. Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease) neurodegenerative diseases and multiple sclerosis.

In addition, the center offers a continuum of care with no-cost opportunities for the community to participate in education and research, including disease-prevention studies and clinical trials for promising new medications.

In his role as program manager, Adu-Brimpong manages business development and other strategic projects aimed at improving access to neurological/neurodegenerative disease care in Nevada, with a special focus on increasing accessibility for rural areas.

“What I love most about this role is that it is a very creative and interdisciplinary role,” he said. “It allows me to utilize my background in research, informatics and training in health care administration to help think through and develop new models of care delivery — both in-person and virtual. I enjoy being able to help better serve patients, no matter where they are located – in urban or rural areas — ensuring that all patients have access to high-quality, world-class care.”