Faculty Focus: Sinyoung Kang, MD, PhD

Date: Thursday, October 5, 2017

Meet Sinyoung Kang, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesia

What is your hometown?

Seoul, South Korea

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

Although it was not until my junior year in high school that I made the conscious decision to study medicine, I have been interested in science ever since I can remember.  I spent a lot of time reading books, watching documentaries, and discussing a variety of scientific topics with my father (who is a physicist) in my childhood and adolescent years.  Sometimes we would run some cool experiments exploring magnetism or electricity, sometime we would have a heated discussion about different approaches of solving algebra questions, and sometimes I would be his assistance in our little projects like putting some gadgets together to make an electronic yogurt maker.  Growing up in scientifically rich environment made it easy for me to discover my aptitude and passion.  

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

July, 2011

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

After completion of anesthesia residency and finishing a PhD program, I joined the University of Iowa Department of Anesthesia as a postdoctoral fellow.  In addition to gaining skills and knowledge in research, this was a unique opportunity for me to experience and appreciate the supportive and rigorous scientific environment that the University of Iowa offers.  Given the great mentorship, nurturing environment, and strong support from the Department and the University, I could not think of any better place to start out.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I have been very fortunate to have many great mentors guide me along the way.  My two mentors during residency training, Drs. Jong-Hak Kim and Chi-Hyo Kim, provided me with the right combination of direction and oversight and greatly helped me build clinical competence, confidence, and professionalism.  Dr. Timothy Brennan has been a mentor to me since 2006, and as an outstanding clinician-scientist and a wonderful teacher, he has been my role model.  He sets a great example with his hard work and dedication, and has helped me find the balance between clinical practice and lab research. 

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

I believe I am optimally positioned to recognize important, clinically relevant questions in the field of anesthesiology, and to conduct well-designed research to answer these questions.  One of my main clinical interests is regional anesthesia and acute pain management, and my goal of clinical care is not only optimizing pain management, but also maximizing functional recovery of patients after surgery.  My research interests lie in understanding the mechanisms of functional impairment after major surgery. Understanding these mechanisms will allow us to develop new perioperative strategies that can facilitate the recovery of activity for many postoperative patients.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

As I grow up professionally, I have been witnessing and participating in the continual expansion in our specialty.  Not only we are assuming a broader role in perioperative patient care, our role has expanded beyond the operative or procedural settings to acute and chronic pain management, intensive care unit, palliative care, and sleep medicine.    

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

My advice is to enjoy the process.  A career in medicine and science means a lifelong journey of learning, and it is not about a one-time goal or one final destination.  And yes, we try very hard to achieve our goals, and we celebrate our big and small victories when we reach the next waypoint.  But I think having a positive attitude and enjoying each and every step of the journey is what keeps it exciting and meaningful. 

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

I have been engaged in external professional activities, such as presenting lectures or posters and participating in seminars at national and international conferences, and reviewing manuscripts for scientific journals.  I also enjoy being part of the Regional Anesthesia Study Center of Iowa (RASCI) workshop, during which we offer hands-on learning experience in wide range of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia techniques to participants.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

I try to spend more quality time with my family, especially with my four-year-old daughter.  I enjoy traveling and trying new foods (like most people do).  I am also a self-proclaimed music enthusiast.  I grew up playing musical instruments and singing, and music has been my favorite way to unwind and de-stress.

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