Category: Children's Health, Health Magazine

Title:Emily E. B. Pagan, MD (M’97, R’00, Parent’25)

Author: Karen Doss Bowman
Date Published: November 8, 2021

Emily E. B. Pagan, MD

Board-certified pediatrician, fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and pediatrician at Virginia Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, PLC, an Arlington, Virginia-based practice that provides care for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

Statue of Libertystethoscope

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised on Long Island. Growing up, I was inquisitive about medical issues—I always had questions for my doctors—and wanted to help people who were hurt or sick. My mom encouraged me to become a physician. During my childhood, she recognized my potential to become a caring doctor. She and my father were self-driven and successful minority business development entrepreneurs. He passed away in an accident when I was young. My mother courageously persevered running their business and raising my brother and I with the help of my grandmother. Their determination and motivation remained within me and inspired me to become a pediatrician—the first physician in my Puerto Rican and Cuban family.

I first visited Georgetown University as a high school student attending a national youth leadership development conference on campus. It felt like a home away from home.

I started medical school in the Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies Program (GEMS). I met my husband, Fernando Pagan, MD (M’96, R’00, Parent’25), in medical school in 1992. He is a professor and vice chairman for the Department of Neurology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. We have three wonderful sons—one just started his freshman year at Georgetown.


As a pediatric resident, I was working in the neonatal intensive care unit when a premature infant born in the parking lot was brought in. I worked with the team trying to save this child, who weighed approximately 1,000 grams. Sadly, the baby did not survive, but the experience was life-changing for me. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the value of life, a better understanding of how physicians and other medical professionals work as a team to preserve life, the importance of technology and innovation, and the impact of compassionate care for families.


In 2017, I moved to my current practice, joining Marijana Ducic, MD, FAAP, a Georgetown pediatric residency graduate who was my mentor. Medicine is about teamwork, collaborating with colleagues, and providing all-around, compassionate care for our patients.

Throughout the span of my career, I’ve seen incredible advancements in vaccinations. When I started practicing medicine, for example, the pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines were not available. I try to educate families in my practice about how successful vaccines have been at saving lives from preventable diseases.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2020, after discovering a lump in my breast in between annual mammograms and checkups. I was diagnosed early, which saved my life. After numerous surgeries earlier this year, I’m happy to be cancer free. Since returning to work in May, I am thrilled to share my story with my patients and parents.

As a pediatrician, I advocate for preventive care assessments and encourage my patients to know their bodies and trust their instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, be proactive—talk to your doctor. That step could be lifesaving.

Photos: Phil Humnicky / iStock

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