Meet new faculty: Richard Hodinka

Name:  Richard L. Hodinka

Current job: Clinical professor, department of biomedical sciences, School of Medicine Greenville and Greenville Health System

Degrees: BS biology, Marietta College; MS microbiology, University of Montana;Ph.D. microbiology, Ohio University 

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in a small coal-mining town, Allison, Pa., of about 300 people in Western Pennsylvania, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. I moved around to various places to complete my training and then Philadelphia became my home for the past 26 years when I accepted my first and only job (until now) after completing my fellowship program. 

What’s your area of study or research?

I am a clinical microbiologist by training. Clinical microbiology is a branch of laboratory medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Clinical microbiologists, like myself, normally assume leadership roles in directing diagnostic microbiology laboratories within hospitals where they become involved in patient care by using specialized technology to identify and study pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) that are responsible for human diseases. 

Why did you choose Carolina?

After a wonderful 26-year career at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, I made a difficult decision to start a “second career,” which would allow me to expand my responsibilities as a teacher while still doing scholarship and service-related activities. In June of this year, my wife and I packed our bags and headed South. Since then, I have had absolutely no regrets as it has been an unqualified pleasure and honor to assume a large and active role in the medical education of tomorrow’s physicians at this unique institution. Why did I choose School of Medicine Greenville? Because it is a new medical school that has embraced a variety of changes in the development and delivery of a medical curriculum that involves an integrated, team-based approach to the clinical and biomedical sciences and that actively engages students in the process.   

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Without a doubt, I am looking forward to the continuous interaction with students, faculty and administrators at the School of Medicine Greenville and contributing to the overall vision and mission of this newly established medical school. As one of the more recent additions to the founding faculty, I am extremely excited about being part of the innovative and forward-thinking integrated curriculum and student-centered approach to learning that is being put forth at this institution. In the coming years, I look forward to being front and center at graduation ceremonies for the many classes of medical students who will pass through the doors of School of Medicine Greenville and go on to have great careers in medicine. 

How did you become interested in your work?

Like many things in life, my career was molded by the many people that I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet and work with along the way. I always had a passion for science as a child, but knew little of the unseen world of microorganisms until my junior year in college. That’s when I took my first microbiology course from a wonderful and exciting professor named Dr. Fred Farley. It was then that I had one of those  “Oh gee wow” moments -- that enlightening educational epiphany where you realize that this is the one, a career of a lifetime, something you want to do forever. Microbes play an enormous role in both sickness and health; we always hear about them in the context of nasty diseases, but we really cannot live without them and the many benefits they provide -- this point has always blown my mind.

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