Gianrico Farrugia has been a physician with Mayo Clinic for over 30 years. His medical background is in genomics and gastrointestinal disorders. In 2015, Dr Farrugia became vice president of Mayo Clinic and CEO of the Florida branch, leading a staff of over 6,400 people. In 2018 he became president and CEO of the organisation.

A Maltese doctor got me an interview with Mayo Clinic. I'd always been interested in a career that involved caring for patients and also conducting medical research in a laboratory to develop new cures. During medical school at Royal University of Malta, I met a doctor who had just returned to Malta after his fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. Once he returned to the organisation to join the staff, we kept in touch. When I graduated in 1987, he arranged for me to interview for residency in his department. I was lucky to be accepted, and I left Malta in 1988.

I felt that was the kind of place I would thrive in. I was told about the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in a truly collaborative environment, where clinicians and researchers are constantly working together. 

I'm now in my 31st year at Mayo Clinic. As a clinician-scientist, I've had the opportunity to treat patients with serious or complex diseases and run my own lab. I've been fortunate to have a fulfilling career in clinical medicine and research, and it's humbling to have the opportunity now to lead this premier institution as we transform healthcare for all.

My interest in medicine was first sparked by my father. My father was a fairly well-known physician in Malta. He established his own private medical practice that included seeing patients at our home. I was inspired by his long-time connection to patients and his passion for medicine. His tenacity and his caring were an inspiration to me and my brother, who also became a physician.

Leading an institution like Mayo Clinic is a true 24/7 job. It's very exciting. With a staff of 68,000 people and a growing global presence, we have something going on somewhere all the time, whether it's a new development in research or a new technique we're introducing to improve clinical care. However, I think it's also one of the best jobs in the world. We see 1.3 million patients every year from 140 countries. Newsweek recently named Mayo Clinic the best hospital in the world, and it's my job to ensure that we continue to do what we do best. 

Discovering new cures is the best feeling. I get to work with some of the most brilliant and compassionate people, as we aim together to shape the health care of the future. But even that does not quite match the fulfilment of witnessing our teams when they introduce a new cure to the world. When I have the opportunity to meet the first patient to receive a novel treatment and to talk with the patient's family, it truly hits home why we're doing the work we do.

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We moved to the US two days after our wedding. I was lucky to grow up in a very close family that included my father, my mother and two siblings. Now I have my own family. I have been married to Geraldine, who is also Maltese, since 1991. She was willing to take a huge risk and move to the US only two days after we got married. We have two wonderful sons, Luca, who is in medical school in Arizona, and Stefan, who also just got accepted to medical school. We're very proud of both of them. 

You are the CEO of your own health. Health and wellness are earned by the little things we do every day - the extra steps we take, the food choices we make, the number of times we take the stairs. Also be an activist for your health. Know what your best treatment options are and participate in making your health care decisions. What is right for others may not be right for you. 

We visit Malta once a year to spend time with our extended families, and we sometimes make additional trips to show the beauty of Malta to our friends. We also share what we love about Malta with Mayo Clinic's friends, for instance, organising medical conferences there, which gives us another opportunity to come back. 

Are you a Maltese person living abroad? Contact malteseabroad@timesofmalta.com

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