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Top People Stories of 2017

Service challenges, groundbreaking discoveries and bicentennial celebrations all succeed thanks to the students, faculty and staff who call Saint Louis University home. In 2017, a number of members of the SLU community made headlines for their work and accomplishments.

Below are a few of their stories.

Samkon Gado, M.D.
Samkon Gado, M.D. 

Former NFL Running Back Shifts Gears to Become ENT Surgeon 

In November, ESPN traced the path of Samkon Gado, M.D., a third-year resident in otolaryngology at Saint Louis University, who spent six seasons as a running back in the NFL.  

Gado retired from the game in 2010 to pursue a medical degree. After he completes his residency at SLU, the Nigerian-born Gado plans to return to Nigeria to become one of only about 250 ENT doctors in a country of more than 200 million people. 


Dorsa Derakhshani
Dorsa Derakhshani

World Class Iranian Chess Player Finds a New Home at SLU 

In October, the New York Times highlighted the story of SLU freshman Dorsa Derakhshani, a chess champion from Iran who made international headlines after being banned from playing for her homeland because she refused to wear a hijab at a tournament earlier in the year. 

Today, Derakhshani is competing as a member of Saint Louis University’s chess team, which is quickly becoming one of the best collegiate programs in the country. Derakhshani has known the team’s coach, grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez. Under his leadership, Derakhshani aims to become a grandmaster one day, too. 


Andrew Oberle
Andrew Oberle

Chimp Attack Survivor Seeks to Help Other Trauma Victims 

Also, in October, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiled Andrew Oberle, a St. Louis man who was mauled and nearly killed by chimpanzees in 2012. Oberle is currently putting his name and energy behind a new SLU initiative to support patients who have suffered the same kind of severe trauma he endured. 

Oberle, who was treated by SLUCare physicians and SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital therapists, counselors and nurses, is serving as a peer patient advocate and development officer for the newly formed Oberle Institute, which was named by was named by generous anonymous benefactors.