Mission to Peru

Medical student tackles challenges of developing world

Since last fall, Joseph Donroe, A98, M.D./M.P.H.’06, has been on a leave of absence from the medical school and—supported by a Fogarty grant—he is working to improve the physical and mental health of vulnerable children in Lima, Peru.

Joseph Donroe with some friends in Lima, Peru.

He has organized a soccer tournament for the kids, many of whom live in shelters or on the streets. Donroe, who captained Tufts’ varsity basketball team as an undergraduate, is also conducting a study of the factors associated with child pedestrian traffic injuries in a portion of the city.

Rather than enter medical school directly after college, Donroe hefted his backpack and hit the road. “I traveled to Asia, Africa, South and Central America,” he wrote in his application for a second-year renewal of the Fogarty grant. “I built houses for impoverished families on a small island in the Philippines. I was the interpreter for an orthopedic surgical team in Ecuador, and I helped erect a fire station in a small village in southern Chile.”

It’s all pointing him toward the kind of medicine he is determined to practice, says Donroe—wrestling with the gritty public health challenges of the developing world.