The curiosity of John Gonzales, MD, shows how imagination, properly stoked, can ignite a career. After a childhood illness required blood tests, young John received a slide of his own blood from an enthusiastic medical technician. His parents then gave him a cheap microscope.
“ If we can develop genetic profiles to pinpoint more diseases earlier, it likely will save lives as well as sight.”
– Dr. John Gonzales
“That glimpse of my cells was the first spark,” says Dr. Gonzales. “My body contained a secret world within it.” His early passion for biology led him to the University of Southern California for a medical degree and then to the University of Texas at Galveston for his residency. During a UCSF fellowship in uveitis and nonsurgical corneal care, Dr. Gonzales also built expertise in retinal and corneal viral infections and dry eye.
Genetic Diagnoses Ahead
Dr. Gonzales served on the faculty of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York City prior to joining the UCSF faculty. As a uveitis specialist, he uses laboratory tests to help determine the cause of each case, allowing a match with the best available treatment. Unfortunately, many uveitic diseases lack a diagnostic test.
Dr. Gonzales aims to address this problem by identifying genetic causes of particular uveitic disorders so that tests can be designed to diagnose them. Sarcoidosis, a systemic disease that causes uveitis and is life threatening when it reaches the lungs, is his first research subject. The work may lead to a simple blood test.
“If we can develop genetic profiles to pinpoint more diseases earlier, it likely will save lives as well as sight,” says Dr. Gonzales.