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Dr. Alfredo  Quiñones-Hinojosa

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

World-Renowned Neurosurgeon & Neuroscientist

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

World-Renowned Neurosurgeon & Neuroscientist


Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa — just call him 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 perseverance 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 and was funded by the National Institute of Health for his pioneer work— Dr. Q became a Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology, Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In less than 6 years after starting there as a faculty member—a meteoric rise in academia. Dr. Q 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 federally-funded research to cure brain cancer. Currently Annapurna with Plan B Entertainment productions announced that his inspirational life story is going to be featured in a movie. Netflix also aired a new documentary series called The Surgeon's Cut, which features an episode about Dr. Q and his work.

At Johns Hopkins, and now at the Mayo Clinic Florida, Dr. Q leads 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, the Howard Hugues, among others. He is also the Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery at the College of Medicine. He is currently working on a method to use human fat cells engineered with nanoparticles and viruses to cure brain cancer. "It's almost like you give a hunting dog something to smell," Dr. Q told CNN. "We give the cells the smell of cancer juice and they go back and chase these cancers incredibly well."

In 2011, he co-founded Mission:BRAIN, 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. Recently, he started up two companies, Obex Theranostics and Dome Therapeutics. He was also appointed International-Vice Chair (Central & South America) for the AANS and CNS Tumor Section 2020-2022.

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. He is at work on a follow-up volume describing his day-to-day life as a brain surgeon at Mayo Clinic and 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. Dr. Q is currently Dean of Research at Mayo Clinic, as well as the Neurosurgeon-in-Chief, Professor, and Physician-Scientist in the Department of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Florida. Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa is recognized with the distinction of being the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor at the Mayo Clinic.

Passionate about building bridges, healthcare innovation and patient engagement & the human side of healthcare, Dr. Q has also delivered keynote speeches to a variety of audiences including students, medical organizations and business groups. He enthusiastically recounts his journey and stories from his life as a top brain surgeon and neuroscientist — and how he picked up his sense of control in the operating theater from the work he did picking tomatoes in the San Joaquin Valley. He is a mentor to young people and an ardent champion of STEM education, encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, education and math.


  • World-renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist
  • Author of the autobiography Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey From Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon (University of California Press, 2012)
  • Former Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology, Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore
  • Neurosurgeon of the Year Award in 2014 from Voices Against Brain Cancer
  • Directed the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at The Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, Baltimore
  • Directed the Pituitary Surgery Program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
  • Led the Brain Tumor Stem Cell Laboratory at The John Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • Named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in 2008
  • Selected by Popular Science Magazine as one of its annual Brilliant Ten geniuses influencing the course of science
  • Lead editor for the 6th edition of Schmidek and Sweet's Operative Neurosurgical Techniques, the world's preeminent encyclopedia of neurosurgery
  • Featured in the movie “Dr.Q”, which is being produced by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B

Speaker Videos

Life Story

TEDx: Healing. Opportunity. Patients. Empowerment

Loyola University 2016 Commencement

Johns Hopkins University 2013 Commencement

Southern Vermont College 2011 Commencement

ABC/Hopkins Special

Speech Topics

Healthcare Innovation: Using Your BRAIN for the Greater Good

Top brain surgeon Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa is in hot pursuit of a breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer. With his previous work in the operating theater at Johns Hopkins University and with his nonprofit Mission:BRAIN (Bridging Resources and Advancing International Neurosurgery), Dr. Q relies on healthcare innovation and cutting edge technology, to ultimately discover a cure for brain cancer, as he performs 250 surgeries each year. Dr. Q. knows first-hand that we need to be personal innovators first, in order to make quantum leaps in curing diseases and improving health outcomes. In this presentation derived from his own personal experiences and methods of practice, Dr. Q presents his inspirational vision of making medicine work for us all. His drive and passion, and as well as his rousing stories of saving lives around the world is sure to uplift and inspire your audience.

This Is Your Brain on STEM: Making the Case for Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math from America's Top Brain Surgeon

Every year, Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa would bring students to The John Hopkins University campus in Baltimore in the hope of igniting a passion in them to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. As a doctor, scientist and inventor, Dr. Q. believes in the importance of science, technology, math and engineering in education. He also believes in the responsible appropriation of educational funds leading to STEM careers.

In this highly personal presentation detailing his astonishing career trajectory, delivered with the same rousing spirit of encouragement as his beloved annual addresses to students on his home turf, Dr. Q. recounts his own story of relentless dedication, persistence and hope in the field of medicine. In an effort to inspire students of all ages to place their own brain trust in the STEM fields that inspire them, he recounts with surgical precision what made him a luminary in his field. He also uses his STEM background for what he hopes is an eventual cure for brain cancer. 

Becoming Dr. Q: An American Dream Like No Other

Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa came to America as a teenager from his native Mexico. He began working in the tomato fields and rail yards of Central California and in his spare time took community college classes that brought him to The University of California at Berkeley and then Harvard Medical School. He received a degree in medicine and his American citizenship before the age of 30. By 40 he was widely regarded as one of America's finest doctors, having performed 250 brain surgeries a year at Johns Hopkins University in the midst of his fight for a cure for brain cancer. In this rousing presentation, Dr. Q. recounts stories culled from his autobiography Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey From Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon. He includes details behind his arrival, maturity and eventual success in America, depicting an American Dream like no other.

Building Bridges, Finding Cures, Giving Hope

The astonishing journey from migrant farm worker to renowned surgeon, scientist, innovator and philanthropist is full of stories. In this speech Dr. Q will share the stories that demonstrate the importance of building bridges and the ways that bridges sustain and enhance our lives.  His journey is a reminder that each student is full of potential and it is our joint responsibility to build bridges to them so that they have futures worth hoping for. Whether it is bridging resources through his global missions or bridging ideas in the lab using STEM cells to find a cure for cancer, Dr. Q uses bridges to find cures and give hope.