Dr. Gustavo Fonseca credits his career choices and successes to two role models — his father and a Miami physician who oversaw his post-medical school internship. His doctor father convinced him to go to medical school; the Miami physician steered him toward a specialty in oncology and hematology. Through he and his partners’ efforts at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute in Lecanto, clinical trials for patients with cancer are conducted right here in Citrus County, with some new medications gaining approval from the FDA because of these trials.
“Hundreds of patients each year have benefited from Dr. Fonseca’s partnership in research with two nationally recognized cancer centers, whether they could pay or not,” said his nomination. “The benefit Dr. Fonseca and his partners bring to our community through these clinical trials allows medications and innovations in treatments that usually are only available in large metropolitan cities to help patients here.”
A native of Colombia, Fonseca initially wanted to become a scientist.
“My father convinced me to first be a doctor, then a scientist. As it turned out, with the work I do, I am both,” he said.
He attended medical school in Colombia and at the University of Alabama. While doing an internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital-Veterans Administration Medical Center in Miami, he was trained by an oncologist who impressed Fonseca with his humanistic outlook.
“I truly felt this physician demonstrated a way to take care of people like I wanted to,” Fonseca said. “I had an opportunity to train as a cardiologist but became interested in oncology.
“At the time, oncology wasn’t a popular practice. It was looked at as being depressing. But I could see that there was more to it than that,” he added. “I don’t mind addressing serious medical problems, including life and death. I also like to address the whole circumstances of patients and their family situations. We have to be aware of the full gamut of what the patient’s needs are, body, head, and family.”
From 1992 to 1995, Fonseca was trained in oncology/hematology at the renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In 1998, he joined Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Center, which was then called the Cancer and Blood Disease Center. He found the practice through word of mouth.