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Dr. Ina Park Rhee

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1974

Medical School

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine



Career Path

Internal medicine: Oncology
Dr. Ina Park Rhee


I was initially attracted to medicine because I had always been interested in scientific research, and I wanted to be able to study clinically meaningful problems. I therefore elected to pursue a combined M.D.-Ph.D. program. Clinical training has been eye opening, and I have discovered how much I also enjoy thinking about and caring for patients. I hope eventually to be able to combine my research interests in cancer genetics with my clinical interests by pursuing a career in academic medical oncology.


Dr. Ina Park Rhee has been a resident in internal medicine at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. She has only recently launched her medical career, although she has begun with an impressive achievement—in May 2002 she graduated with both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in human genetics.

During her undergraduate years at Harvard University, Ina Rhee spent her summers studying cell biology at the National Institutes of Health. In 1995 she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and headed directly to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Over the next seven years, she pursued combined-degree training in the Medical Scientist Training Program. Under the direction of Bert Vogelstein, M.D., and Kenneth Kinzler, Ph.D., she conducted research on the genetic basis of colorectal cancer. An elected member of the Alpha Omega Alpha national honor medical society, Dr. Rhee graduated from Hopkins with both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in human genetics in May 2002.

Throughout her studies and now as a young academic physician, Dr. Rhee has demonstrated great single-mindedness. She comments, although, that "tennis game and piano playing have gone downhill since embarking on her medical adventure."

Dr. Rhee looks forward to her medical career with great excitement, "Undoubtedly life will remain hectic in the foreseeable future, but promises to be challenging, exciting, and rewarding."

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

I certainly can't identify any external obstacles that were placed before me. I am continually grateful for the tremendous support of my family, to whom I owe any small success that I may achieve. I am also very mindful of how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to train in medicine; this training has altered my perspective and sense of priorities in life.

How do I make a difference?

I try to be meticulous with details. Physicians can never be too careful and I am trying to learn to be systematic so that fewer mistakes are made in patient care. I also struggle to be a better role model for medical students and to devote more creative energy to their education.

Who was my mentor?

The mentor who has most shaped my thinking is my Ph.D. advisor, Bert Vogelstein. He is a tremendously generous leader and a prodigiously gifted scientist. His dedication has shown me the kind of sustained focus that one needs to succeed at any task.

How has my career evolved over time?

I am just beginning my career, having only recently made the transition from being a medical student to being a doctor. Ask me again in another five or ten years!

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