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Faculty Focus: Michihiko Goto, MD, MSCI

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Michihiko Goto, MD, MSCIWhat is your hometown?

Kagoshima, Japan

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

My interests to science came to me naturally, by growing up in family of physicians and scholars. I was very much fascinated by biology first in high school, then expanded my interests in other fields, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, and social sciences. I just couldn’t pick only one discipline but realized I could integrate all of my interests in medicine rather than narrowing them down to one, while directly helping people.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

In July 2014, upon completion of my infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Iowa.

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

When I was looking for a place for my fellowship training, I was attracted by highly achieved faculty members and amazing tradition in infectious diseases, especially for healthcare epidemiology at the University of Iowa. This fellowship program provided me the strongest support and opportunities to build my career as an infectious diseases clinician and epidemiology investigator with diverse mentorship. In addition, I was impressed by the rich culture of collaboration at this institution, and I and my family love Iowa City as a culturally rich college town. When I was fortunately recruited as a faculty member upon completion of my training, it was an easy decision for me and my family to stay here.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I’ve been very fortunate to have wonderful mentors at every stage in my career. When I was an international exchange medical student at the University of Miami, Drs. Rafael Campo and Gio Barraco (both are outstanding infectious diseases clinicians and scholars) convinced me to do infectious diseases and clinical research as a career. During my fellowship in Iowa, I received the wonderful group mentorship which influenced me the most and shaped my career, from Drs. Eli Perencevich, Mike Ohl, Marin Schweizer, and Dan Diekema. The support and positive encouragement they provided to me during my training were second to none. I continue to enjoy working with all of them as a junior faculty member.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

In big picture, I think there are two domains in our field (infectious diseases epidemiology) I am interested in as an investigator. The first one is to guide clinicians and policymakers to prevent infections and treat patients better by presenting objective data from real world. We focus on evaluating effectiveness of various treatment options and policies and assess burden of diseases and their impacts to outcomes, to help clinicians and policymakers to determine priorities and use resources wisely. This is particularly relevant lately because of rapidly increasing antimicrobial resistance. The second one is to build reliable informatics infrastructure to provide real-world data to epidemiology researchers. The accuracy of data is fundamental cornerstone of any epidemiology study, and this domain has given me opportunities to collaborate with many people, too.

And of course, I continue to love interacting with patients as a clinician and students/trainees as a teacher. Paying it forward to younger generations is the least thing I can do for the wonderful mentorship I have received to date.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

It’s hard to pick one because everything in the field of infectious diseases keeps changing so dynamically (that’s why we can never get bored with infectious diseases), but probably the global emergence of antimicrobial resistance has made the most impact.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Never stop being curious! Intellectual curiosity and the courage to do the right thing are two factors to make you become good physician and scholar, in my opinion.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

In addition to my role as a faculty member at the University of Iowa, I enjoy working with my colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). I act as the infection control consultant for VISN 23 (VA Midwest Health Care Network), including ten VA hospitals in five midwestern states. I also participate to multiple nationwide projects within VA, which provided me tremendous opportunities to expand my professional network beyond the local collaborations.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

I love both listening (mainly classics and jazz) and playing (trombone) music and being a regular attendee of Hancher performances. I also love photography and travels.

Learn more about Michihiko Goto, MD, MSCI