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As a young student in his native South Korea, Yongwoo Kim, MD, dreamed of turning his fascination with science into a career as a researcher. When he reached high school, however, those aspirations were met with a disillusioning dose of reality.
"It just seemed that all the findings and breakthroughs I read about had little immediate impact on everyday life,” Dr. Kim explains. “Medicine, on the other hand, offered the opportunity to directly help people, while also staying involved with research.”
After receiving his medical degree from Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul, Dr. Kim came to Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia for an internship in internal medicine, and a residency in neurology. He went on to complete a fellowship in cerebrovascular disease at the Stroke Center and Department of Neurology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.
“Of all our internal organs, the brain is the least revealed,” Dr. Kim says of his specialty. “While great strides have been made in neurology, there’s still a lot we don’t know about it.”
Making a Difference in Stroke Care
The opportunity to unlock some of those secrets through research, and apply his medical training to a broad range of challenging neurological cases attracted Dr. Kim to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he now serves as an attending physician at the Comprehensive Stroke Center, and an associate investigator at the NIH Stroke Program. He is also an assistant professor of Neurology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and an adjunct assistant professor of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine.
Dr. Kim’s research interests include bringing stroke treatment practices in line with current diagnostic technology tools, and identifying predictive markers that might help hospital emergency departments enhance their care of stroke patients. He also enjoys having a caseload that’s anything but routine.
“I get to treat patients with complex conditions, and who really need help,” he says. “The opportunity to make a difference in their lives is beautiful.”
Outside the Hospital
Dr. Kim used to be heavily involved in kendo, a physical strenuous Japanese martial art that combines swordsmanship with the development of personal values. While he once practiced his techniques seven days a week, each life change—medical training, career responsibilities, marriage, children—has made free time increasingly rare, to the point where he considers his kendo on hold.
“I guess the kids are my hobby for now,” he says.