The incoming president wants to honor the role models, resources and opportunities to learn she found at the Miller School
By Debby Teich
Photography by Jeffery Salter
Maria Del Pilar Gutierrez, B.S. ’84, M.D. ’90
aria Del Pilar Gutierrez, B.S. ’84, M.D. ’90, emigrated from Bogotá, Colombia, at age 18 to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a physician. For 26 years, the pediatric infectious disease specialist has been treating children at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.
In June, she began a two-year term as the elected president of the Miller School’s Medical Alumni Association (MAA), following outgoing president Alex J. Mechaber, M.D. ’94. We talked to Dr. Gutierrez about her career and her plans for the MAA.
What motivated you to become president of the MAA?
I feel a responsibility to give back to the Miller School for providing me with the foundation for a successful career through its excellent role models, resources and opportunities to learn. The medical field is constantly changing, and I want to help our future physicians explore their endless career possibilities.
Why is it important for alumni to support the school’s future?
The MAA is an opportunity to establish and enhance a mutually beneficial and enduring relationship between the Miller School and its faculty, alumni and students. Through mentoring and supporting scholarship initiatives, we will be able to guide our graduates and continue to advance the mission of the Miller School.
What experience had the greatest impact on you at the Miller School?
In 1987, I was studying immunology during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The whole world was listening to us as we discovered how to treat the virus and reinforced the importance of treating patients and their families with compassion and dignity. I was fortunate to be at the Miller School during this critical time.
[The Miller School has been at the forefront of the battle against HIV/AIDS for decades and has developed or contributed to some of the most significant scientific, clinical and behavioral approaches to fighting the disease, including antiretroviral treatments that changed the course of HIV to a treatable disease. For more, see this issue’s cover story.]
What do you love about your career?
As a pediatric infectious disease specialist, I am able to combine my love of science with the art of listening and healing. I enjoy coming to work each day to help children and their families navigate their medical journeys. I also love being involved at the hospital in many roles, including chair of the Mentorship Program for Pediatric Residency and medical director of Pediatric Infection Control.