As director of the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute (MNI) since October 2007, Dr. Dong H. Kim leads the clinical neuroscience efforts for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Combining the strengths of the 11-campus Memorial Hermann hospital group with 3,600 patient care beds and the academic resources of the UT System, MNI provides the most specialized treatment available for diseases of the brain and is a national leader in research for new treatments.
Dr. Kim is noted for his research into the origin, development and treatment of brain aneurysms. He leads basic science efforts, such as identifying the genes that lead to an inherited risk for aneurysms and genetic changes in brain tumors, and translational projects that directly affect clinical practice. He has been honored with numerous awards and was named to America's Top Surgeons, Marquis Who's Who and Who's Who in America. He is the recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Stroke Association and has authored studies published in journals such as Nature Genetics, Brain Research, International Journal of Cancer, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery and Genes, Chrom, Cancer.
Dr. Kim is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. After general surgery training at Harvard, he completed his neurosurgery training under Dr. Charles Wilson at UCSF. He went on to complete a fellowship in cerebrovascular surgery and skull base tumors with Dr. Arthur Day.
He has held faculty and hospital appointments at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Cornell University Medical College, The New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Kim specializes in the following diseases:
A mother's quest for her son’s recovery from a pineal cyst leads her to Dr. Dong Kim, Director of the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Pineal cysts, fluid-filled sacs that form near the center of the brain, are found in about 3 percent of people. Most of those who have them don't suffer noticeable symptoms, leading a majority of doctors to believe the cysts only cause problems if they grow extremely large, which is rare.
Paralyzed from the neck down, 20-year-old Louis Tontodonato has enrolled in the first clinical trial testing the ability of stem cells to repair spinal cord injuries and restore sensation and movement in quadriplegics. "This would be a quantum leap in the field," said Dr. Dong Kim, chairman of the UTHealth Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center. "This would be the first trial to show regeneration."
The doctor currently in charge of Gabrielle Giffords' neurological recovery, the man who's had his very hands in Giffords' brain, was once mistaken for a kung fu expert.
It was 1972, and the second-graders at Ed Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, New York, didn't quite know what to make of Dong Kim, the boy who'd just arrived from Korea.
"There were probably not that many Asian people there at that time, so a lot of the kids just assumed I knew kung fu," Kim remembered, laughing. "I got some notoriety out of that. I knew nothing about kung fu, but I could kind of fake it and impress people, or at least impress other 7-year olds."
That boy grew up to be chairman of the director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center. Giffords came under his care last week when she was transferred to Texas from the University Medical Center in Arizona.
Dr. Kim said that Ms. Giffords had no memory of the shooting, but that that was normal for someone with this kind of injury. The rest of her memory seems to be intact, he said, including her long-term memories of things past and her ability to remember new events and people. He said that she recalled things from one visit to the next, and that when he came to see her he could pick up where he had left off with her during his last visit.
Dr. Dong Kim is nothing if not efficient. On this day at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Kim, director of the hospital's Mischer Neuroscience Institute and professor of neurosurgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, has patients in adjacent operating rooms, allowing for a smooth transition from one to the other.
Dr. Dong Kim, director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital and chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, was in the spotlight last week when he performed surgery on wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, replacing a portion of her skull and implanting a cerebral shunt. Kim spoke with Houston Chronicle medical reporter Todd Ackerman about the wonders of the brain, his feigned childhood proficiency in kung fu, and why he likes Houston better than more celebrated cities he's lived in.
Dong Kim, M.D., UTHealth neurosurgeon and director of the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center, says patients often suffer for years, because even if a doctor finds a pineal cyst, they don’t believe it causes symptoms and won’t perform the delicate surgery to remove it.
A selfless act of kindness is helping a Central Texas woman tackle a brain disorder that's troubled her most of her life. Tamara Thomas, 33, suffers from a pineal cyst. A pineal cyst is usually about the size of a grain of rice, but Tamara's cyst is more walnut-sized. Few doctors perform the complicated surgery, but the kindness that led the family to Texas may now payoff when it comes to her critical surgery.