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Spring/Summer 2011

Match with a Mission

Among a class of remarkable students, Joel Rinaud stands out.

By: Ramsey Flynn
Date: May 20, 2011

Match Day 2011
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The envelope please: This year's graduating class of medical students, which celebrated Match Day (above) on March 17, comprises 44 women and 55 men.
photo by Keith Weller

Among the newly minted physicians ushered into the world here at Johns Hopkins each spring, certain individuals win special accolades. For internal medicine’s Sarah Clever, assistant dean of student affairs, that new doctor is Jodel Rinaud.

Rinaud, who is bound for Duke University’s internal medicine program—as announced at the March 17 Match Day ceremonies for 97 graduating medical students—was inspired to become a physician because of his experiences growing up in a poor region of Haiti, “where he frequently saw people die of entirely preventable and easily treatable diseases,” notes Clever.

As a graduating senior in Haiti, Rinaud achieved the top score (among all the nation’s high schools) for acceptance to medical school, but his studies were interrupted by a coup d’état. He went on to secure a student visa to the United States, where he graduated summa cum laude in biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts—despite working more than 40 hours per week to support himself and his family back in Haiti. With some momentum behind him, Rinaud then proceeded to a PhD at Harvard, commandingly describing the molecular pathway of insulin resistance.

During his time as a medical student here, he used his mastery in biochemical processes to assist a colleague in a project about the role of CAPZB2, an actin binding protein, in neuritic growth and morphology, successfully publishing a paper. All along, he kept a hand in helping his home country as a co-founder of Haiti’s Scola pro Omnibus Liberis foundation to help eliminate illiteracy among children. Every year the group provides education for 10 to 20 school-age children who otherwise would not have attended school.

Rinaud was traveling when we tried to reach him, but Clever can’t wait to see what he does when his medical career finds its ultimate place. “It really is a remarkable story,” she says.

Rinaud’s Hopkins class this year included 44 women and 55 men. All but two will be entering a residency program next year. The most popular specialties: internal medicine, pediatrics, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery, radiology, and general surgery.

This year’s students were placed in some of the country’s most prestigious hospitals, including Johns Hopkins (34 students), Massachusetts General, UCLA Medical Center, and Mayo Clinic.  Ramsey Flynn