2019 Top Doctor: Sophia N. Williams

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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Pulmonary Disease (Pediatric)

Med School/Year Graduated: State University of New York Downstate, 2006

Years in Practice: 7

What inspired you to pursue pediatric pulmonary disease?

My interest has always been on the well-being of children. Once I decided on pediatrics, I saw that pulmonary was a good blend of procedures, along with both acute and chronic care. The variety keeps it exciting.

Have you or someone close to you struggled with breathing issues?

My dad and aunt both struggled with pulmonary issues. I have mixed emotions when I think about their journey, but it definitely played a role in my curiosity and interest in pulmonary medicine.

You also specialize in cystic fibrosis. Have there been any interesting developments in that treatment in recent years?

In the last few years, the CF research community has made tremendous strides in nutritional improvement, inhaled antibiotics and modulators. The CFTR modulators have been particularly inspirational, as these medications are targeting the disease on a cellular level.

You did your residency and went to medical school in New York. What do you miss most about the state?

I will always be a New Yorker at heart. It’s a vibrant city with a lot of culture. I do miss that spontaneous energy and diversity of the city and the people.

What’s your impression of the Valley’s air quality, compared to New York and L.A.? Are there any lung ailments that are Valley-specific?

Each side of the coast is unique. I think that location of resources and state regulations play a role in the functional differences here in Arizona. However, in terms of the compassion and quality of care, I think Arizona is in sync with the coastal cities. In terms of lung ailments that are “Valley-specific,” coccidioidomycosis – aka Valley Fever – is definitely a big one.

Is it your impression that pediatric lung issues are on the rise?

I don’t think so. Instead, I think that medicine has been successful in extending the life of children with lung conditions. We have more preterm babies making it out of the NICU, more CF patients living into adulthood. So our population with chronic diseases is growing.

What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?

I love to dance and to travel. Seeing new places and enjoying the music of the world, is a true joy of mine.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

I’d be an investment banker. I like the excitement and strategic thought process involved. I actually started in finance in New York and stumbled upon a volunteer opportunity at one of the hospitals. That led me down my current career path in medicine.

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