The Dallas physician is passionate about music, family, sports and working on his mission to make healthcare accessible to all.
Dr. James Pinckney II is a family man. When he’s not devoted to helping the Chasing the Cure community, or running his patient-focused membership medicine practice Diamond Physicians, he loves spending time with his wife and son in Dallas, Texas.
The charismatic doctor studied general surgery at the acclaimed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after graduating from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. While in his residency, Dr. Pinckney wasn’t happy with the accessibility of care so he made the decision to pivot to family medicine. His mission: To help provide medical care to all, regardless of socioeconomic class. He completed his family medicine training at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas.
We caught up with the affable doctor to ask him about solving medical mysteries in his own practice, the power of social media and what he does when he’s not working to save lives.
So much of your role on the Chasing the Cure is about interfacing with social media. Tell us about how you think social media can be beneficial to patients.
Social media is probably one of the greatest connectors that we have seen in the last 20 years and it completely changed the way we talk to each other, we communicate with each other, we interact with each other, we process information. If we use it in the right ways, it's a very powerful tool to solve problems, to create communities, and to inspire and to inject hope into the medical community so people feel like they're not alone.
In what ways have you experienced that on Chasing the Cure?
I have received so many messages of support. One, in particular, was from Rori's case from the first episode. This individual's father was diagnosed with ALS and she was just so appreciative that Rori's story was shared, and she was thanking me for being part of the show because she felt like she wasn't alone — and that she finally had people to connect with and talk about her situation dealing with a loved one that's been diagnosed with ALS.
Have you solved any medical mysteries in your own practice?
One in particular that comes to the forefront of my mind is one of my clients was suffering with migraines for two decades. And it turned out that she has lupus and she had been undiagnosed for many, many years. She was so grateful that I went through all her medical records and put together all these pieces and ran extra tests. It turned out that her mother probably has lupus as well and had actually struggled with the same things that she struggled with… It was really a gratifying case. The reason why we get into medicine in the first place is to help people, and it makes you feel good to solve these really challenging cases.
When you’re not working on the show, or your own medical practice and business, what do you like to do?
When I'm not working or flying to L.A. and doing Chasing the Cure, I love spending time with my family. I have a beautiful wife, she is definitely my better half, and a beautiful son who's two years old and is an Energizer bunny. He is nonstop all day, every day. I love spending time with him and teaching him things. He's talking now and it's just a really fun time. We love to play sports. He likes everything that involves a ball: basketball, football, soccer, tennis, baseball, all of those things. I love sports as well, so we have a good time doing that.
And my wife and I, we love to eat. Or I love to eat, and I drag her with me. So those experiences are always a lot of fun for me.
Do you like to cook?
I'm really good at breakfast. I cook my wife brunch and I think that's what made her want to marry me. But my go-to meal is a Chilean sea bass. I make a mean Chilean sea bass.
Dallas must be a good food city.
We've got a lot of great restaurants in Dallas. We love to travel… Before the baby was born we were traveling quite a bit. We did do one trip last fall. We went to Italy and that was amazing. I always like to immerse myself in the culture, so we got to do some things in Bologna that the Bolognese do. And then we saw Hamilton in London, which was incredible. We love plays.
I'm super family-oriented, so anything that I want to do in my spare time has do with my family, with my brother or my parents or her parents or my wife or our extended family.
Do you have any favorite sports teams?
Oh yeah. My Texas boys. So, Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott just signed his six-year extension for 90 mil. I read that this morning, so should be ready to go for the first game of the season. I'm a huge Mavericks Fan. Texas Rangers. Anything Dallas, those are my squads.
What about music, what are you listening to these days?
Khalid is just on fire right now. I actually just listened to Khalid on the plane. And I love R&B. And I love hip hop. But as I've aged, I can't listen to the explicit lyrics anymore. I'm also really into Latin beats right now. There’s a song called "Baila Baila Baila" by Ozuna that I'm obsessed with.
I like everything. When I'm working I listen to classical: Johann Sebastian Bach is my favorite classical composer. I love jazz. My favorite producer is Timbaland by far. I like Timbaland between like '92 and 2006. I like old school like Genuwine, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah. I'm almost 40 so I'm all about 90s and early 2000s.
That era of music was the best — what other doctor on the show would you most likely go have a beer with?
Bon Ku! That's my guy. Bon Ku is hilarious. He cracks me up. We have a good time on the show. If you watch our Instagram stories I'm always messing with him in some capacity.
What’s something people might not expect about you?
I think I come off as serious. A lot of my clients think I'm super serious all the time, but I'm not. People are shocked when they find out that I have a sense of humor and love comedy. I love to laugh. My son thinks I’m hilarious, although I don't know if that counts because he’s only two years old, so…
I say that counts.
Sophia Kercher is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the editorial director of Chasing the Cure. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Women’s Health and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.