This past spring, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Christian A. Linares, MD, MS, MPH, Trinity Class of 2004. We discussed some of his favorite Trinity teachers, memories, life after Trinity, what took him across the pond, and why he’s always wanted to become a doctor.
Bret Saxton ’05, Trinity Director of Communications: Let’s start by talking about your time at Trinity. Were there moments/teachers that you remember standing out?
Dr. Christian Linares: One of my proudest memories from Trinity was, with the help of Ms. Carole Baker, bringing the sport of rowing to the school and winning a state championship in crew during my senior year. We worked our butts off to find a coach, recruit a team, raise funds, and create a spirit that took us to the top within a year.
Academically, the teacher who had the biggest impact on me was Mr. Frank Ward, whose formative criticism pushed me to new limits and formed the foundation of my writing prowess now as a professional in medicine and public health.
BS: Did you know you wanted to become a doctor while at Trinity? Was there a specific “lightbulb” moment?
CL: I sort of always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I suppose it just fit with my eldest-brother/Boy-Scout personality and wanting to do noble work for a living. After junior prom, my date introduced me to her father, Dr. Wayne Villanueva, a Louisville-based neurosurgeon, who has been my career mentor in medicine ever since—even since moving to London! Over the course of college, I learned about public health and realized my passion for health policy and wanting to improve health for more than just individual patients. Medicine ended up being my fourth degree, and I am absolutely obsessed with stereotactic radiation therapy and neuro-oncology, to the extent, I’m considering a PhD in radiomics in the coming years.
BS: We have to talk about the move across the pond. Was this move something you had always considered or something that just kind of came about as you got older?
CL: I don’t think anyone who knows me was surprised by my decision to move to London. For many years I had been flirting with the idea of moving to South America; I even learned Portuguese in college to complement my native Spanish so I could communicate with more people down there. I had already lived in New York City for my research fellowship in neuroradiology, and my brother lives in Hollywood. Although I miss my parents, I could not be happier with my life in London, where I have met my partner and developed a great career.
BS: Let’s discuss what you’re currently doing in London.
CL: I am currently a resident physician in internal medicine at St. Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster, the UK’s best and most famous hospital, where we took care of Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was hospitalized with COVID (he gave us permission to say).
The residency training system here is very different and much longer than in the United States, but next year I will be a clinical fellow in oncology at Guy’s Cancer Centre, which is part of Guy’s & St. Thomas’ hospital system and is one of the best cancer centers in the UK. Last year, I happened to be working in virology when the pandemic hit, which flexed all my training in medicine, research, policy, and management. In addition to working as a doctor on the front-line wards and ER, I also conducted original research in antibody testing, presented at four national conferences, co-authored official guidelines governing the testing of patients and staff across southeast England, and served as Co-Principal Investigator for the RECOVERY Trial at my hospital, which discovered the life-saving application of dexamethasone in COVID.
So many horror stories from the wards though, an extremely emotional time for all of us working in London hospitals. The pandemic hit London like a fireball but being London, it also has the capacity to grow back even stronger and more evolved coming out of this. On weekends I now moonlight as the prescribing physician for the COVID vaccine clinics at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospitals, sometimes prescribing up to 1,400 vaccines in a single 13-hour day! It is an amazing feeling walking out of work lately seeing everyone safely back in restaurants and public places, bringing London back to life again.
When I first moved here, I was all about taking the tube. I now cycle everywhere, rain or shine, because London is just majestic! My partner, Najmeh, is a conceptual artist from Iran with a background in urban design and installation art, and she was just accepted for an MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts, ranked #2 in the world, and located just across the River Thames from my hospital near Buckingham Palace. We are hoping to get married once the pandemic allows, and in a few years we will both be dual national British citizens.
BS: Incredible! Thank you for the work you’ve done in helping our world get back to a semblance of normalcy. You’ve obviously been very successful throughout your career; do you feel like Trinity played a part in that success? If so, how do you feel it did?
CL: Definitely. Trinity gave me both the academic and social education I needed to become the man and professional I am today. The fierce competition between us in the Advanced Program was pivotal for achieving the enormous goals I would later set for myself. I see Mr. Ward shine through everything I have ever written, and I largely credit him for my ability to effect change through my words.
I built relationships through THS that will likely last a lifetime. I learned how to treat people with respect and compassion even when others cannot. My family made many sacrifices to afford my tuition at THS, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.Dr. Christian Linares ’04