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DIM Spotlight: Roger Kim, MD

March 02, 2023
by Amy Anderson

Introducing Roger Kim, MD, former resident of Yale Department of Internal Medicine. Kim completed residency training in 2018. Kim also graduated from Yale School of Medicine in 2015, and Yale College in 2010.

Where are you now?

As the Interventional Pulmonology Fellow in the Section of Interventional Pulmonology and Thoracic Oncology in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania, I currently live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Yale Traditional Internal Medicine Residency Program in 2018, I completed Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, during which time I spent two years on a T32 research training grant, earned a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology, and submitted a K08 Career Development Award grant submission to the National Cancer Institute. I am pursuing a career in academic medicine as an interventional pulmonologist and a physician-scientist focusing on optimizing the diagnostic process in thoracic oncology. Lung cancer is the deadliest malignancy, and unfortunately most patients are diagnosed with late stage disease. Thus, significant efforts have been made over the past two decades to diagnose lung cancers at earlier, potentially curable stages. My research seeks to improve the diagnostic process in thoracic oncology, with specific focuses on lung cancer screening and indeterminate pulmonary nodule evaluation and management. Currently, lung cancer screening rates across the nation are unacceptably low and racial disparities plague efforts to achieve health equity. Moreover, current pulmonary nodule risk stratification practices are largely non-standardized and result in a high proportion of patients either undergoing unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures for benign disease or experiencing delays in their cancer diagnoses. These are some of the great challenges in my field of study that I hope to address throughout my career as a physician-scientist.

What do you love about your career?

As an interventional pulmonologist, I often care for patients during some of the most trying and anxiety-provoking times of their lives–a pulmonary nodule that might be lung cancer; a large obstructing endobronchial tumor causing shortness of breath; a subglottic tracheal stenosis leading to a constant sensation of suffocation. It is an absolute privilege to guide my patients through these challenging situations, and I love expediting a diagnosis and making my patients feel better. Nothing beats a patient waking up from anesthesia and exclaiming, “I can breathe now! Thank you so much, Dr. Kim!” As a thoracic oncology clinical researcher, I am committed to ensuring my academic work is practically relevant to clinical care and directly impacts the patients I care for. I love the collaborative nature of clinical research and have met many wonderful colleagues around the world through my research endeavors. We all have the same goal: improving the lives of patients with thoracic malignancies.

How did Yale prepare you for your career?

I was very fortunate to have incredible mentors during my 12 years at Yale. As a molecular biology major at Yale College, I received a Yale College Dean’s Research Fellowship to study proteasome assembly in Dr. Mark Hochstrasser’s laboratory, which was invaluable in teaching me the scientific method and kindled my interest in research. During my time as a Yale medical student, I was awarded an American Society of Nephrology Foundation for Kidney Research Student Scholar Fellowship and was funded on an NHLBI T35 training grant to investigate NHE3 transporter phosphorylation patterns and oxalate transport in Dr. Peter Aronson’s laboratory. As my clinical and research interests evolved, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Lauren Ferrante during my internal medicine residency at Yale New Haven Hospital studying factors associated with hospital discharge disposition among critically ill patients receiving physical therapy. Clinically, I had wonderful mentors in pulmonary and critical care, such as Dr. Margaret Pisani and Dr. Kyle Bramley, who were influential in my decision to pursue a career in interventional pulmonology.

What have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments since the beginning of the pandemic?

The pandemic began in the midst of my pulmonary and critical care fellowship so I was on the front lines in 2020 providing direct patient care in the medical intensive care unit for patients suffering the worst effects of COVID-19—namely acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, and multi-system organ failure. My colleagues and I sacrificed academic research time to care for those most in need during the scariest times of the pandemic. Despite these challenges, I was fortunate to publish 10 peer-reviewed journal articles, including 5 first-author publications during my fellowship, earning the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine Bradley Clinical Research Fellow Award. My work evaluating racial disparities in lung cancer screening adherence has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, and my work assessing a novel artificial intelligence radiomics-based computer aided diagnosis tool was published along with an accompanying editorial in Radiology in addition to being featured in a variety of media outlets, such as Oncology Times, Tech Times, Diagnostic Imaging, and I have additionally earned the Annals of Internal Medicine Top Peer Reviewer Award and the American Thoracic Society Assembly on Thoracic Oncology Abstract Scholarship and currently serve on the American Thoracic Society Thoracic Oncology Assembly Early Career Professionals Working Group and on the American College of Chest Physicians Lung Cancer Section.

Describe your experience at Yale IMed in 3 words.

Comprehensive, formative, and unforgettable.

What surprised you most about your field/area of expertise?

I am constantly amazed by the total dedication and selflessness of my colleagues in interventional pulmonology. Despite being a relatively new medical subspecialty, interventional pulmonology has already firmly established itself as an integral component of any medical center offering comprehensive pulmonary or thoracic oncology services. Since the field was first formally given a name by Dr. Daniel Sterman in his famous 2001 New England Journal of Medicine article, interventional pulmonologists have long been known to go above and beyond for their patients, often working late hours to ensure patients receive the care that they need.

What is your fondest memory?

I will always cherish my time as Yale medical student. Along with my classmates, Alexander Kula (MD 2015), Stefan Gysler (MD 2015), Max Petersen (MD, PhD 2018), and Michael Hajek (MD 2017), I formed a rock band called The Laws. We were active throughout most of our time at the Yale School of Medicine and performed shows regularly in the greater New Haven area, in addition to playing a few shows in New York City.

One piece of advice you’ll never forget?

To provide the best patient care, there is no substitute for time.

If you could say anything to your younger self, what would you say?

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. There is no substitute for hard work.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I am a proud father, husband, and an avid ice hockey fan and player. If I’m not in the operating room or working on my research, you can usually find me either spending quality time with my family or on the ice enjoying the greatest sport.

The DIM spotlight is a feature as part of the DIM Digest, highlighting alumni, former trainees, and faculty of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Submitted by Amy Anderson on March 03, 2023