Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Dr. Jae Hyung Cho
Feb 25, 2022 Agata Smieciuszewski
After studying medicine in South Korea, he made his way to the U.S. in search of the best medical education. We chatted with him about his experience as a fellow and his work in cardiology research.
"I am really proud that I was trained at Cedars-Sinai."
What was your journey to Cedars-Sinai like?
Dr. Jae Hyung Cho: I was born in South Korea, and I went to medical school there. When I was studying medicine, I really wanted to come to the U.S. for my training because there are a lot of clinical trials, new treatments and new studies here.
After finishing medical school in South Korea, I completed an internal medicine residency in Illinois and briefly served as a hospitalist. I then followed my dream of becoming a physician-scientist and joined Dr. Eduardo Marbán's cardiology lab as a postdoctoral fellow while completing my PhD training.
After I earned my PhD in 2018, I applied for a cardiology fellowship and got matched at Cedars-Sinai again. I became a faculty physician at Cedars-Sinai in July 2021 after finishing my fellowship. Now I see patients in my own cardiology clinic, and I'm also an attending physician in the cardiology consult service.
What got you interested in your specific field of study?
JHC: Part of my research is in cardiac electrophysiology, which studies heart rhythm disorders. I remember a patient from my residency who came in with heart palpitations. We did an electrocardiogram and found arrythmia. The patient's heart was beating more than twice as fast as normal. The rhythm specialist—also known as an electrophysiologist—decided to treat the patient with medication. Within one minute, the patient's rhythm came back to normal. It was very fascinating, and it made me want to learn more about cardiology.
Another area I study is cardiac regeneration, or stem cell cardiology. Once someone has a heart attack and there is a lack of oxygen and blood supply to the heart muscle, the heart muscle cells die and become scar tissue. They don't regenerate, or at least that was what we were taught. But recently, Dr. Marbán's group identified cardiac stem cells, which regenerate. Through clinical trials, we've learned that these stem cells can regenerate heart muscle and improve heart function.
I am researching more about this cardiac regeneration therapy in various heart diseases.
What was your experience as a cardiology fellow at Cedars-Sinai?
JHC: Cedars-Sinai has an amazing legacy, excellent teachers and diverse patients. Fellows are blessed to have these opportunities and are trained at a very high level. As a general cardiology fellow, I assisted with very complex and difficult-to-treat patient cases. Also, because we are at this high level, the attendings' expectations are very high. Fellows have to study a lot and see many patients, as well as attend educational conferences. I am really proud that I was trained at Cedars-Sinai.
Which living person do you most admire?
JHC: Obviously, I admire Dr. Marbán. He is a great scientist and clinician as well as a very warmhearted person. Not only has he inspired me to become a physician-scientist, but he's also a good teacher.
If you weren't a physician and researcher, what other profession would you like to have outside of the medical world?
JHC: I enjoy music, and I was a drummer in a rock band when I was in medical school in Korea. Although I don't have much time to play nowadays, I probably could have become a musician. I was obsessed with rhythm when I was drumming, and that's one of the reasons I'm interested in heart rhythm disorders now.
What do you like to do in your free time?
JHC: I have two daughters—they're 11 and 7. I like to hike with my family in places like Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and Runyon Canyon.