John A. de Gorostiza Villanueva


Name: John A. de Gorostiza Villanueva, MD

Hometown: Born in St. Paul; Grew up in Minneapolis & Los Angeles

Undergraduate school attended: Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

Hobbies: Singing & Piano (10k followers on youtube:  Dr. Jay Piano); Home Projects (featured on HGTV “House Hunters:  Bachelor Pads” Episode 3);  Advocacy for Social Justice; Cooking; Gardening; Enjoying the Outdoors; Running, Cycling; Mentoring; Traveling 

Languages you speak: English, Tagalog (Filipino), Spanish, Classical Latin 

Furthest I've traveled from home: Mandalay & Bagan, Myanmar  

Favorite activity in the Twin Cities: Exploring the Nightlife of Minneapolis & St. Paul. Twin Cities is an affordable metropolitan area that offers all the best of an urban big city—theatre, concerts, professional sports, multi-cultural events, and an amazing food scene—while providing a Midwestern small-town feel, where everything is 15 minutes or less away. And I love the Mall of America! :)

What is your specialty: Interventional Pain Management; PM&R (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation)

Why I chose my specialty: I grew up accompanying my mom to her many orthopedic appointments as she had severe congenital scoliosis. Her treatments were largely centered on reducing the progression of her deformity through three spinal fusion surgeries (her first was at the Univ. of MN when I was a baby). However, her chronic pain persisted and I felt helpless as a kid not understanding the reasons behind her debilitating symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. This has inspired me to methodically learn musculoskeletal, neurological, and pain pathophysiology. As a PM&R physician, I have the skills (from performing Electromyography Studies to doing a focused musculoskeletal exam) to figure the root causes of one’s pain, while facilitating my patients’ restoration of health not only from a medical perspective, but from a functional-model as well. As an Interventional Pain Specialist, I can provide various image-guided pain injections and neuromodulation treatments to help relieve and heal my patients’ pain symptoms. I can also prescribe the appropriate physical therapy program, behavioral management, safe pharmaceuticals, and other complimentary treatments (i.e. acupuncture). I am gratified for providing my patients a multi-disciplinary approach of treating their pain from a variety of disease processes: spinal conditions, joint disease, neurological disorders, cancer, and other medical conditions. 

Why Medicine: I have a ceaseless curiosity for medical knowledge and enjoy the challenge and excitement of navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare. I have the desire for intellectual stimulation and the fervor for finding solutions to complex medical problems. As a physician, I am honored to have the privilege of forging a covenant of trust with my patients, who vulnerably share their hopes and concerns with me. In return, I validate my patients’ existence in this world by empathetically listening to them and giving them a sense of worth. With self-worth, my patients can hopefully take proactive measures to respect their bodies and follow my recommendations to sustain their overall health and function. 

Closing Remarks: In addition to the excellent medical education and training I received at the University of Minnesota, I am thankful for the support and encouragement from the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity. The friendships I have made with OMA&D Director Ms. Mary Tate and my SNMA family were instrumental in my success at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Although I graduated in 2007, I am blessed to still be in regular contact with my SNMA alumni friends living in MN and all over the country, who have definitely kept my spirits and morale up during this pandemic.