Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa — Dr. Q — was an impoverished teenager living in a rural Mexican village before he hopped an 18-foot fence into California and found his way through hope, hard work and persistence into the loftiest heights of the American Dream. The eldest of five children, “Freddy,” as he was then known, toiled by day as an undocumented migrant worker in the tomato fields and rail yards of Central California. On his days off, he attended biology classes at the San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. Then he became a gifted student at Berkeley before transferring to Harvard, where he received his medical degree and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, all before the age of 30.
After completing his residency at the University of California, San Francisco — where he also obtained a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental and stem cell biology — Dr. Q became a Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology, Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest surgeons and scientists, operating on some 250 brain tumors every year and leading cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer.
At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Q lead the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory, focusing on the surgical treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumors. He has conducted numerous research efforts on brain cancer and the role stem cells can play in fighting illness, receiving funding for his work from the National Institute of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. Now he is currently working on a method to use human fat cells to fight brain cancer.
In 2011, he co-founded Mission:BRAIN, with Dr. Michael Lawton of University of California, San Francisco, a nonprofit organization providing neurosurgical resources to patients, caregivers and healthcare providers in underserved areas around the world. A consortium of medical professionals, suppliers and volunteers from across the U.S., Mission:BRAIN conducts neurosurgical missions in Mexico, the Philippines and other countries across the globe where health care is lacking.
In 2012, he published his autobiography, Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon (University of California Press). The best-selling book details his astonishing journey from the tomato fields of central California to the highest echelons of medicine in the U.S. and around the world. Brad Pitt and Disney are currently developing a movie about him and his amazing story.
He has appeared on television in the award-winning ABC series Hopkins as well as on NOVA, CBS News with Katie Couric and NBC’s The Today Show. Dr. Q is regularly listed as one of the best surgeons in America and delivers motivational addresses to the graduating classes of the nation’s top universities.
He is currently the Neurosurgery Chair at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.