Brad Pitt, immigration, Mayo Clinic, and ‘Dr. Q’


It’s the remarkable tale of a poor Mexican boy who beat long odds to become a renowned brain surgeon. His mission — to eradicate brain tumors.

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa first came to this country as an illegal immigrant. Jumping a border fence on the day before his 19th birthday in 1987, he had no English and no money, so he took jobs picking cotton, painting, and welding to pay for tuition at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton, California.

Quiñones-Hinojosa would eventually learn English (and become a U.S. citizen), going on to Harvard and then serving as head of brain tumor surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

And now, the brilliant doctor has landed in Florida. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has hired Dr. Q, as he’s called, as its William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor and chairman of neurologic surgery. He’s slated to start at Mayo this fall.

Meanwhile, his story is also getting the Hollywood treatment. Disney and Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company are developing “Dr. Q”, a biopic based on the surgeon’s life. The film will reportedly be based on the physician’s 2012 memoir, Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon. 

“Just think,” said WJCT commentator Jay Solomon, “if we had built border walls years ago, we could have kept out Dr. Q. But perhaps it’s not too late to block others who have aspirations that won’t wait.”

More from Solomon here.

Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected]


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