Infectious Disease

I like Peter Chin-Hong, MD

February 23, 2021

2 min read

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I know people in this field often say they wanted to work on infectious diseases since they were an embryo or a young child. But that was really the case with me.

I remember being 6 years old, growing up in a rural area in the Caribbean, walking around the beach and then being scared because I was worried that I would get a hookworm. That’s how my mind worked then, not that I was terribly concerned. At some point, however, I weighed the pros and cons of wearing flip flops or not and decided not to wear flip flops because of the risk of parasitic infection. Even so, I grew up in the Caribbean, so there were infectious diseases all around me. It wasn’t so much the pathogens themselves that intrigued even a relatively uneducated boy; It is really the systems that have made it extremely difficult for my neighbors, friends, and family to get the care they wanted.

Peter Chin-Hong, MD
Peter Chin-Hong

For me, infectious diseases have always been the interplay between social justice and health care from the start. When my best friend’s father died of HIV in high school, it was pretty much sealed. That was probably the reason why I decided to do a stay in internal medicine – because of this tradition of caring and comprehensive care for people with HIV. I wanted individuals in this area to be my mentors.

My early training didn’t disappoint. I knew that some of the best teachers, doctors, and people in general were working on infectious diseases, and I wanted to be part of the club. As a faculty member now looking back, I was surrounded by these infectious disease giants. And I couldn’t have made a better choice. This area not only offers me a variety of medical challenges every day, but also the opportunity to deal with parts of my brain that would be very challenging in other areas. It’s all from a single source, so to speak – I can be a scientist, clinician, social worker, clinical investigator, medical educator, and compassionate provider at the same time.

Infectious diseases are very personal to me. I look back on the influences of my family growing up in the way I do care, and I am grateful that infectious diseases have given me that platform.

– Peter Chin-Hong, MD
Member of the editorial team for infectious diseases
Professor of Medicine
Director of the Infectious Disease Transplant Program
University of California, San Francisco

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