In a Geneva auditorium packed with infectious disease specialists from around the world last September, Dr. Gonzalo Bearman ’93 presented a plenary session on an unlikely topic: leadership in health care, from a soccer enthusiast’s perspective.

“It was the apotheosis of my passions, all in 45 minutes,” says Bearman, whose experience as a goalkeeper on Colgate’s 1992 men’s soccer team — the first in University history to win a Patriot League championship — taught him about grit, perseverance, and teamwork. Today, Bearman leads the Division of Infectious Diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). “I’m applying principles from my life in sport to my life at work.”

Bearman, who still plays soccer once a week, has become adept at integrating his work in the medical field with his interests in arts and leisure. “I found role models in medicine who were interested in more than just the science of medicine,” he says.

Born and raised in Argentina before immigrating to the United States at age 6, Bearman came from a family of doctors, including a gastroenterologist grandfather and a pediatrician father. But Bearman didn’t settle on a specialty until a microbiology class in his second year of medical school at the University of Buffalo.

“I remember lectures with faculty members who were traveling around the world, working in clinics, seeing patients internationally,” says Bearman, who was a member of Colgate’s Wales Study Group. “I was almost out of my seat. I was like, ‘I want to do what they do.’”

Today, Bearman treats patients, mostly those with general infectious diseases and chronic HIV, in his office at VCU’s medical center. He scratches the international itch by traveling worldwide to lecture on healthcare leadership, infectious diseases, and his research focus, hospital-acquired infections. He also previously worked with the Honduras Medical Relief Brigade, which brings public health aid to rural Honduran communities.

Bearman, whose first language is Spanish, studied Spanish literature alongside biology as an undergraduate. “I’ve always liked writing,” he says.

A decade ago, Bearman founded the Medical Literary Messenger, a biannual online magazine that “aims to promote humanism and the healing arts through prose, poetry, and photography.” The magazine’s Winter 2023 issue contains the medically inspired titles “Hospice” and “Stop Your Bleeding.”

“As medicine becomes more technical and specialized,” Bearman says, “[the Messenger] is a way to connect with the underlying humanity of it all.”

Since 2021 Bearman has also served as the inaugural editor-in-chief of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Healthcare Epidemiology, an open access journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Along with his efforts in the soccer and literary arenas, Bearman is also a rock ’n’ roll drummer. His band, Vagabond Dandies, formed in 2020 when Bearman, two doctor colleagues (a neurosurgeon and a dermatologist), and a local school supervisor needed an escape from the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an infectious disease expert, Bearman had begun writing opinion pieces for the regional newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that attracted the attention of face-mask and vaccine critics.

“I’ve received my fair share of hate mail,” he says. “Before the pandemic, [public health experts] were minimally seen and almost never heard. When public health is working, you don’t care much about it. [Now] there’s a much greater awareness.”