Nicholas Comninellis, MD MPH
Fresh out of family medicine residency, Dr. Comninellis was eager to polish his skills in tropical medicine just before taking assignment in Angola, southern Africa. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research offered one of the most reputable courses at the time, and he was thrilled to be accepted into their program in spite of his non-military background. He spent the summer of 1987 at their location in Washington, DC, but came away feeling the course lacked in addressing of cross-cultural and health leadership skills.
Dr. Comninellis went on to spend three years as Director of Health Care Ministries for the Baptist Convention of Angola, Africa, in association with the International Mission Board-SBC. While in Angola, he supervised three health centers and was attending physician at Kalukembe Hospital. He was also the medical director of the Dondi Leprosy Control Center and taught Angolan medical students at the Huambo Provincial School of Medicine. However, the frustrations Nicholas felt with the availibility of training and his desire to help the poor continued to drive him towards the goal of finding a solution that would provide more intensive, targeted training geared towards tropical medicine.
After returning to the United States, Nicholas spent many years as a faculty physician at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Family Medicine Residency. The fire that initially ignited in his heart had never subsided, "I carried it with me even into the academic phase of my career, which largely focused on teaching young doctors to care for the most underserved citizens of Kansas City. I excelled at teaching, and I pondered how to combine this strength with my zeal for helping those most poor."
His answer came in the form of INMED - the Institute for International Medicine. Established in 2004, the non-profit organization trains young physicians for leadership in international health and medical missions. INMED offer a distinctive course of study for medical students and resident physicians. The one to two month course is comprised of two main elements: Academic Seminars & International Service.
Graduates completing INMED's rigorous study receive a Diploma in International Medicine. But more importantly, Nicholas Comninellis's dream is INMED graduates will one day be working for our world's most disadvantaged citizens through such organizations as the Samaritan's Purse, World Health Organization, World Vision, and Doctors Without Borders. In their hands will be the future legacy of international medicine and medical missions as careers of remarkable compassion.