Dr. Yousef Jorge Cruz-Inigo, ARC Fellow
Yousef Jorge Cruz-Inigo grew up in Puerto Rico on the western coast of the island in the Mayagüez Municipality. Growing up playing basketball and other sports with his childhood friend and current NBA star JJ Barea, he learned the importance of being a team player early in life, while his love for the ocean and fondness for all things athletic led him into the waves. By 4th grade he was “hanging 10” with his two brothers. Surfing, often referred to as the perfect sport, brought with it an incredible rush as well as a meditative peacefulness.
Growing up, Yousef witnessed the struggles that another friend faced after developing progressive night blindness and being diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. This early experience had a definite influence on his choice of retina as a specialty. However, even as a third-generation doctor, medicine was not necessarily a forgone conclusion. His grandfather ran a small hospital and his father was an ophthalmologist. With two uncles that were also doctors, and brothers entering the medical field, he wanted to make sure that this was truly his calling.
Earning his BA at Boston University, Yousef studied biology and Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American Literature before attending medical school at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan. This was followed by a one year research fellowship in Retinitis Pigmentosa at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. He completed an internship at the Hospital Auxilio Mutuo and performed his residency at the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan. His research experience combined with his ophthalmology residency solidified his commitment to helping others obtain a better quality of life through saving eyesight.
Dr. Cruz-Inigo is entering his second year of a 2-year retinal fellowship at Associated Retina Consultants. When asked about his experience, he readily acknowledges the benefit of working at a practice that treats a broad spectrum of retinal conditions in all fields, including oncology, inherited retinal disease and pediatrics. He added, “both the clinical and surgical components of the fellowship are very strong. This is a unique fellowship for training. I have been provided important knowledge and skills which will ultimately help my patients enjoy the eyesight they deserve”. He enthusiastically admits that he wanted to work someplace warm, but most importantly with doctors that he respected and knew he would work well with.
While his early experience, research and community service helped to define his goals, the great need of the people back home continues to pull at Dr. Cruz-Inigo. When the fellowship is complete, he plans to return to the island and aid a community that is rife with common diseases like diabetic retinopathy as well as the more-rare inherited retinal diseases. He promises to remain engaged in research and ride a few waves as he looks toward a brighter future where new innovation will continue to bring alternative treatments to help those in need.
Favorite Book: Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Spanish: Crónica de una muerte anunciada) is a novella by Gabriel García Márquez, published in 1981. It tells, in the form of a pseudo-journalistic reconstruction, the story of the murder of Santiago Nasar by the two Vicario brothers.