Clinical Capability, Technology, and Community with Dr. Kenneth Kim: Dean Williamson’s Thought Leadership Series

January 17, 2023 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business

In this episode of Dean Ian O. Williamson’s Thought Leadership Series, Dr. Kenneth Kim was invited to talk to Dean Williamson about the convergence of health and business. Dr. Kim is the CEO of Ark Clinical Research, a leading research site for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and the CEO of Cosmos Health Solutions, a leading provider of COVID-19 testing and treatment solutions.

Dr. Kim sees himself as a “serial accidental entrepreneur.” He attended Harvard University for both undergraduate studies and medical school. Citing his wife as the inspiration for his motive to use his education and expertise to better change the world of healthcare, Dr. Kim developed seven different companies over the course of thirty years.

Dr. Kim did not initially set out to launch these businesses but found that creating one company led to creating another.

“As we built these companies we said, what is the need that is unmet that we can build something that society would value?” Dr. Kim said.

His earliest answer came in the form of his first company, a company that centered around ethnobridging, or testing different drugs with people of different ethnic groups due to the possibility of results differing based on ethnicity. While the company was just a startup in 2003, Dr. Kim convinced AstraZeneca to give them the study for the drug Crestor, which resulted in what is still known as the largest Asian ethnobriding study that has ever been established.

Technology has become a pivotal factor in the innovation of healthcare and medicine. To Dr. Kim, that came in the form of remote medicine and telemedicine, which were ways in which he could treat patients without coming into contact with them during the pandemic. “There’s so much you can do remotely and I think you can improve access through telemedicine,” Dr. Kim said. In addition to telemedicine, Dr. Kim pointed out that technology such as CRISPR, which has the ability to edit the human genome, is continuing to revolutionize medicine and healthcare as we know it today. Despite this, Dr. Kim warned that t ethical complications may arise as CRISPR technology becomes more utilized in trials, a standout being in terms of designer babies.

Developing trust is of utmost importance in healthcare trials, and in Dr. Kim’s perspective that can be fostered by having people of similar ethnic backgrounds be part of institutions that serve the well-being of patients. Physicians of similar ethnicities as the people in the trials allow for patients to trust the institutions that run the trials and thus lead to gathering successful results. “I think one of the key things is really having people that are part of the community actually understand the community and understand that community’s pain points that are involved,” Dr. Kim noted.

Dr. Kim’s work not only centers around social justice but also on community and the importance of civic participation. He cited his parents as his reasons for doing so, highlighting their perseverance as immigrants coming to the U.S. In college, Dr. Kim worked with Senator John Danforth and got first-hand experience witnessing the creation of a bill regarding the conservation of Alaska. This opportunity allowed him to start thinking about how important the ability to grow economically is to him and how he wanted to develop that as he went forth in his career, which is exactly what he did through his multiple companies and efforts in healthcare.

When asked what advice he has for college students looking to become leaders of organizations, Dr. Kim emphasized how important it is to do what you love.

“Study what you love, because if you do what you love it’s not work– it’s joy,” Dr. Kim said.

You can listen to the entire conversation between Dean Williamson and Dr. Kim here.