Posted 4 months ago

2024 Featured Top Doctor: Onyemaechi Okolo-Taku, MD

Integrative Medicine

Med School/Year Graduated: St. George’s University, 2015

Years in Practice: 5 

Your stated care philosophy includes treating the patient holistically, not just their diagnosis. Is that the essence of integrative medicine?

Yes, I’d say that whole-patient care is the core of IM. When I first meet a patient, it’s important to me that I truly hear their concerns and their desires on how they want to be cared for. At its core, IM is a collaboration of care between doctor and patient, as well as a collaboration with different treatment cultures and philosophies, based in evidence. 

You completed a fellowship at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson. How has that experience informed your practice?

I have never presumed that there is only one way to care for illness. Understanding medicine cultures from around the world can be of great help in patient care and this is the knowledge that I gained from the AWCIM. 

As a hematologist by training, you treat blood disorders as well as cancer. How often is there overlap in those areas?

The overlap is 100 percent. In fact, many patients with cancer often develop abnormalities in the blood [due to] treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Additionally, some patients with blood disorders can also later manifest blood cancers such as myeloma and MDS. 

What are some techniques you use to address how cancer affects the whole patient, particularly the emotions that come with a diagnosis?  

Emotional wellbeing and stress management are critical when caring for patients with cancer… IM acknowledges this, and I have learned techniques such as mindfulness and movement medicine, exercises such as yoga and tai chi, and dietary interventions that can really help. Everything is linked, body and mind.

You were born in Nigeria and went to boarding school in England. How did you end up in Arizona?  

It’s the classic story of girl meets boy, and they fall in love. I met my husband a few months after I moved to Arizona for residency, and I’ve been here since. It’s such a blessing being here, waking up in the morning, seeing the beautiful mountains. The desert has so much beauty. 

What are your hobbies and interests outside medicine?

I love to travel. I love experiencing new cultures – food, music, art, all of it! I enjoy exploring new restaurants in the area, interior design, hair and skincare. Additionally, I enjoy spending time outside, hiking and gardening. But my absolute favorite activity is spending time with my husband and my two children.

What are you streaming on TV these days?

Generally, I tend to have shows like Five-Star Chef and Great British Baking Show on in the background. I’m quite a foodie.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

Can I be a person? I’d be Padma Lakshmi, Stephen Satterfield or the late Anthony Bourdain. That is to say, I’d love to travel the world, eat good food and report on it.

Phoenix Magazine Top Doc profile Dr. Onyemaechi Okolo-Taku

Photography by Steve Craft


Onyemaechi Okolo-Taku, MD

Medical Oncologist 

Dr. Onyemaechi Okolo-Taku joined Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers in 2021. She has been blessed with a multicultural and multinational upbringing, which has greatly influenced her everyday interactions, her cultural competency, and her work. She was born in Nigeria and lived there with her family until the age of 8, after which she moved to Texas. Subsequently she spent 3 years in an international boarding school in England. Dr. Okolo- Taku completed her undergraduate degree at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and after college moved to Spain for a little over 1 year. She spent the first two years of medical school at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada and finished off in New York City. While in medical school she did international electives in Nicaragua and the Czech Republic. After NYC, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she completed her internal medicine residency, hematology and oncology fellowship, and integrative medicine fellowship. She is a member of ASCO, ASH, SIO, and IOWG.

Dr. Okolo-Taku has always been interested in oncology and hematology due to the fast-moving developments in the field and being able to bring these treatments to her patients. Additionally, she has an interest in evidence based integrative oncology and completed a fellowship in integrative oncology at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. At Ironwood, she works closely with the Integrative Oncology team that includes Dr. Heidi Rula. She has many publications in hematology, oncology, and integrative oncology ranging from case reports to literature reviews, as well as retrospective research.

Another big interest of hers is community engagement, understanding and breaking down health disparities, as well as medical education. She believes that community engagement leads to stronger bonds between patients and their physicians. Additionally, she will be working closely with Dignity Medicine’s new Family Medicine Program as a Site Director for the hematology and oncology elective rotation, where she will have the opportunity to help train new Family Medicine physicians.

Her non-work interests include spending time with her husband, her son and two dogs, she also enjoys traveling, cooking and dining at new restaurants, hiking, gardening, and art.