José Choca, MD (1959-1994)
Dr. José Ignacio Choca was born in 1959 in Havana, Cuba. His family, including 5 siblings, migrated to the US when Choca was still an infant. After earning his bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University, Choca received his MD/PhD from the University of Illinois College Of Medicine. He took great pride in his work to help minority medical students continue in school. In addition, he tutored international medical graduates for medical board exams. Choca’s advocacy for the primacy of teaching in universities was reflected in his 1992 letter to the Chicago Tribune, wherein he took issue with the bias toward research over teaching in government sponsorship and university culture.
His passion for research on sensory pathways and teaching continued despite learning he was HIV+ in 1991. He died of complications of AIDS in 1994 at the age of 35.
Dr. Choca was a 3-time winner of the Golden Apple Award at the University of Illinois in his 5 years on faculty. This award is based on students‘ election of a teacher that exemplifies the highest standards in education.
1994- Dr. Choca was posthumously awarded the Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA)Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award from AAMC. This highly prestigious award is given to only one of 4 faculty in the nation annually.