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Urology Insights: Vision, Research and Education

Urology Insights: Vision, Research and Education

Cedars-Sinai Department of Urology Chair Hyung Kim, MD, Discusses the Vital Roles Research and Education Play in Successful Patient Outcomes

Hyung L. Kim, MD, a leading urologic oncologist, skilled surgeon, and accomplished researcher frequently funded by the National Institutes of Health, was recently selected to be the inaugural chair of the Department of Urology at Cedars-Sinai.

Hyung L. Kim, MD Kim will head the nationally recognized department with his unwavering commitment to clinical excellence, cutting-edge research, and medical education.

"Dr. Kim's expertise as a urologic oncologist, surgeon, and NIH-funded researcher will undoubtedly continue to drive the success of the Department of Urology," said Cristina Ferrone, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai. "He is equally dedicated to his patients and his colleagues, which continuously fosters his innovation and collaboration.”

Kim recently sat down with the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom and shared his vision for patients and staff, highlighting the important roles education and research play in ensuring the department's success.

Newsroom: What types of patients seek care from a urologist?

Kim: Urology covers diseases of the genitourinary system.

At Cedars-Sinai we have physicians who subspecialize within all the super-subspecialty areas of urology. For example, we have pediatric urologists, urologists who specialize in kidney stones, urologic oncologists who specialize in cancers of the urinary system, urologists who work with reconstruction and urinary incontinence, urologists who specialize in infertility and sexual dysfunction, and we have a transgender medicine program within urology that offers surgical services for adults who wish to transition from male to female or female to male.

Newsroom: What is your specialty?

Kim: I am a urologic oncologist. I take care of cancers of the bladder, kidney, and prostate. I run clinical trials and a molecular biology lab, focused on tumor immunology where we are looking for drugs and therapies that help stimulate the immune response against cancer.

When I first started out, there were only two treatments for advanced kidney cancers, and they were not very effective. Most patients quickly passed away and I felt like there was room for discovery and improvement in care.

Since then, so much has changed, surgeries have improved and there are now over a dozen new therapies for kidney cancer, many that are highly effective. All of us do a small part in making these discoveries, but it has been very satisfying to see the advances in the field that I've devoted my career to.

Newsroom: How has urologic surgery evolved over time?

Kim: When I was training as a resident, we made big incisions to take out cancer, and while we continue to take out cancers with surgery, we're now doing it in less invasive ways. We're now performing operations robotically, resulting in smaller incisions, less pain, and a faster recovery.

In addition to robotic surgery, we have platforms that allow us to do the operation completely noninvasively. That means, in some cases, energy is transmitted through tissue and focused on cancerous areas to ablate the tissue without actually having to cut it out.

Newsroom: As the inaugural chair, what is your vision for the department?

Kim: We have the highest urology volume of all the hospitals in L.A. County, and the goal is to continue to provide the great care we've been providing to our patients while continuing to grow our research enterprise.

We have research excellence and training, which is an important part of our department because if you have excellent doctors who are doing cutting-edge research, you want to then use that platform to train future doctors who are going to go out and have an impact on patient care elsewhere in the country.

Newsroom:  How does education and research contribute to the success of the department?

Kim: When I arrived at Cedars-Sinai 13 years ago, a residency program did not exist. We knew we wanted to attract other clinicians who felt that it was an important part of their mission to train and educate future doctors. So, if you want to attract those people, you have to have a training program in place, so we applied for a residency program, and we've now had a residency program for 10 years.

When you have a doctor who is always thinking about where the frontier of knowledge is, and they’re always thinking about how to do things even better than what is already being done, I think you're going to have a more thoughtful doctor. You're going to have a doctor who's providing you with not just the standard treatments, but maybe even experimental treatments as part of a trial, and you may have access to future therapies, and in return, you could be helping develop the future standard of care.

I think having a team of researchers in your program makes for better care for everybody.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: What You Need to Know About Kidney Stones