by AMY LEHRER | photos by Spark Photography

Medically Collaborating Worldwide

As a Puerto Rican citizen, Gerant Rivera-Sanfeliz aspired to become a doctor. His father was a pharmacist, his mother supported the family at home, his oldest sister became a pharmacist, his other sisters became accountants, and his brother became a banker. He obtained his B.S. in Science from the University of Puerto Rico and attended medical school at the University of Puerto Rico. Of the many possible medical specialties to practice, Gerant chose radiology, a specialty that uses various types of images like x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, PET scans, and MRIs to diagnose and treat diseases. He completed his Diagnostic Radiology residency at UCSD and a one-year fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology, a discipline that offers minimally invasive alternatives to conventional surgery, at UCSF. As a Clinical Professor of Radiology with a subspecialty in Vascular and Interventional Radiology, he has been practicing for the last 13 years. For the past 22 years, he has also worked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in La Jolla.

“Being a physician is the most rewarding experience in the entire world,” shared Gerant. A patient once shouted, “I have died; I am in heaven,” as he walked past. When he asked this man how he knew this, his patient explained, “Because I see you, and you’re an angel.” Experiences like this one inspired him to begin lecturing in Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico. Not wanting to limit who could benefit, he never charges for his lectures. He revealed, “Lecturing has opened my world, allowed me to meet different people, and has been my opportunity to give back. I feel blessed every time I visit a new country.”

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Gerant became inspired by Lola Rodriguez de Tio, a poet who wrote, “Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of a bird, drawing flowers and bullets over the same heart.” Taking a chance, he contacted the Radiology Department of the Hermanos Ameiheiras Hospital in Havana. The result: he gave many lectures in Havana, had multiple opportunities to work at the Havana hospital, and collaborated with Havana colleagues to publish a two-volume book on Interventional Radiology, which won the National Book Award last year.

In the future, Gerant looks forward to spending more time with his wonderful children, TJ and Camila, and retiring so he can create a nonprofit organization that brings his Interventional Radiology skills wherever needed.


Name: Gerant Rivera-Sanfeliz
Profession: Physician
Community: Talavera since 2003
Hobbies: Basketball, yoga, salsa dancing, writing
Favorite Local Spots: La Jolla, Lake Poway