Dishwasher to Doctor
Healing Hearts, Changing Minds
As members of the Kurdish minority, the family had few choices and paid a smuggler to get them out. A circuitous route of migration finally brought them to the United States where they were assisted by members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in their adjustment and resettlement in Clarkston, Georgia. Through a network of caring community members, Heval was introduced to Dr. Omar Lattouf, an Emory cardiothoracic surgeon who took an interest in mentoring him through his undergraduate pre-med work at Georgia State University and his admission to Morehouse School of Medicine where he graduated cum laude. He finished his internal medicine residency training at Emory University and received recognition as resident of the year as well as honorable distinctions in social and inpatient medicine. Dr. Kelli is currently serving as a Katz Foundation Fellow in Preventative Cardiology.
Dr. Kelli’s research focuses on utilizing mobile health technologies to bring health education to underserved areas. In collaboration with his lifelong mentor Dr. Omar Lattouf, he has launched a global initiative to combat cardio metabolic syndrome through hosting seminars in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Kelli is launching a mobile application that allows patient self-risk stratification for cardiovascular diseases. He is the co-editor of Complex Cardiac, an on-line cardiac textbook, co-editor of an on-line live webinar channel TEDNETS, where speakers give live interactive lectures to learners around the globe.
His current academic mentors include world-renowned cardiology professors Dr. Arshed A. Quyyumi, Dr Viola Vaccarino and Dr. Laurence Sperling. He is conducting and leading several research projects focused on the impact of socioeconomic status on cardiovascular health and the role of disparity in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers. As a disparity fellow on the METRIC NIH funded grant, he is studying the impact of neighborhood features and socioeconomic status on cardiovascular risk factors. His research progress was featured in global medical news in the American College of Cardiology and Medscape. Dr. Kelli publishes and presents nationally and internationally with a focus on utilizing mobile health technologies to bring health education to underserved areas.
As a result of his life experiences, Dr. Kelli is a steadfast advocate for serving communities in need especially immigrant and refugee communities. He is a co-founder of several non-profit organizations focused on edical education (Young Physician Initiative & You4Education), mentorship (U-Beyond) and healthcare outreach (You4Prevent). He is the co-founder and president of the Kurdish American Medical Association, an organization focused connecting Kurdish American doctors with medical and college students. With the leadership of Georgia State University professor Dr. Mary Helen O'Connor, he co-founded Mentorship Initiative for New Americans where it provides mentoring support to refugee and immigrant young adults pursuing admission to college. Dr. Kelli volunteers his medical expertise at various free clinics which they provide free medical care to uninsured individuals in the community where he grew up. He was recently named chairman of the Service Committee at the World Chamber of Commerce.
President Obama recently wrote of Dr. Kelli, "Your resilience and dedication reflect the best of the American spirit. Your experience offers a shining example of the American dream."
Dr. Kelli was named the 2017 Friend of Freedom award and honored the 2018 inaugural Georgia State University 40 under 40 award.
His remarkable journey and work have been featured and shared over 50 national and international news outlets including CNN, Facebook Watch, The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Emory University magazine, Associated Press, TEDx, NPR, The Economist, The Guardian, VICE, The New Yorker, Voice of America, Georgia State University magazine, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Medpage Today, Guardian-US, International Organization for Migration , GPB, WABE, The Guardian US, AJC, Atlanta Magazine, NBC News, CBS, Channel 2, Channel 11alive, TONIC, Fox News, Al Hurra, GSU TV, WABE-Closer Look, Creative Loafing, IJR, Emory News, American Heart Association, NPR/WABE, The Southerner, American College of Cardiology, Medpage News, GSU, NPR panel, Rudaw, Blic newspaper, Folha De S Paulo, Atlanta Journal Constitution (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), CNN International, Deseret News, TRT-World, The American Immigrant, Sagal Radio, IRC, MDJ, 1H2L, Atlanta Intown, Emory Wheel, VOA, Daily Mail, Reuter, Huffington Post and more.