Passion for Science Becomes a Boom for Community
Moses Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Brings Research Acumen to the Clinic
Growing up, Moses Kim, M.D., Ph.D., was certain he would one day become a scientist. As a child, he moved with his family from Korea to San Francisco, bringing with him a fascination for what he calls “hardcore science.” At University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Kim studied the complex world of molecular biology as he pursued a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. Later at University of California, San Francisco, he conducted research in the lab of Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of telomeres.
But clinical work was part of the required training for his program, and it was at the bedside that Dr. Kim discovered his true calling – and ultimately led him to treating patients at Hoag Irvine who come to him from throughout South Orange County and elsewhere in Southern California.
“Once I was exposed to the clinical side of things, I knew I wanted to pursue hands-on patient care,” he said. “When you’re working directly with patients, you’re actually making a connection with them. It is so gratifying to me to help a person who is in medical distress, take care of the problem and then continue to see them, knowing that they’re doing well.”
Dr. Kim’s mentors encouraged him to pursue his new dream, and his oldest brother, who is the chair of urology at Yale School of Medicine, convinced him to consider the field of urology.
“In medical school, it’s well known that urologists are the specialists with the best sense of humor,” he said. “So, that was appealing to me. It also appealed to my love of scientific innovation. They’re also using lasers and shockwaves every day. Urologists adopt new technologies very quickly. That was consistent with my philosophy: that technology should be used to improve patient care.”
Dr. Kim completed his residency, as well as a fellowship in robotic and minimally invasive surgery, at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. There, he helped launch the VA Hospital’s robot- assisted surgical program.
“I remember the first case I did there. I had 20 observers in the room because we were the first VA hospital in the country to get the robot,” he said. “I learned then that there are no limits to what we can do with technology, as long as we do it safely.”
A self-described “city boy,” Dr. Kim longed to return to San Francisco, but his wife, Torrance-raised Linda Chung, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., of Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group, advocated for the couple and their two sons to move to Southern California more than 10 years ago.
“We joked that it seemed as though all the couples we knew moved back to the wife’s hometown, and then we followed suit,” said Dr. Chung.
In addition to Irvine’s nice weather, great schools and proximity to family, Dr. Chung said that both she and Dr. Kim were excited by Hoag’s vision for Irvine.
“Our arrival coincided with Hoag Irvine’s development. There was a huge gap in the community, and Hoag recognized it,” she said. “Knowing what the vision was and being able to be a part of that, to grow with the organization, was something I appreciated.”
Dr. Kim agrees, and admits his wife was right about Orange County in general. It has been a great place to raise their boys, now 19 and 15.
“My sons grew up playing sports, and I coached Little League and then soccer. I can’t think of a better place to raise kids,” said Dr. Kim.