Many Faces of UTHealth: Kim wrote the books on spine surgery

Published: November 07, 2016 by Rob Cahill

Each year, as many as 500,000 people worldwide suffer spinal cord injuries, according to the World Health Organization. In the time it takes cars to collide, a person can suffer a serious spine injury. Thanks to advances in care, doctors can sometimes repair the damage.

Neurosurgeon Daniel Kim, M.D., and his colleagues operate the biggest spine program in the region and treat approximately 2,000 patients annually. Kim also runs a research laboratory and has authored 20 textbooks on spine surgery and reconstructive peripheral nerve surgery.

Daniel Kim, M.D., FACS, FAANS
Professor and director of the Microsurgical Robotics Laboratory,
Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery
Nancy, Clive and Pierce Runnells Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience of the Vivian L. Smith Center for Neurologic Research
John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School, a part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Director of Reconstructive Spinal and Peripheral Nerve Surgery
Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center

What is it about your department that excites you?

The spine program run by UTHealth and the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute is what I consider a center of excellence. For me to be a part of this team is a great honor. This program is known nationally for its care of spine injuries both surgical and non-surgical. Even when surgery is required, many of the procedures are minimally invasive, resulting in a quicker recovery and a faster return to daily activities.

What is one of the most interesting things about your job?

Teaching. Medical education is a big part of our mission. We’re training the next generation of neurosurgeons. It’s important for residents and fellows to get an opportunity to work with practicing physicians.

Could you describe some the research in your Microsurgical Robotics Laboratory?

We’re working on miniaturized robotic devices designed to navigate their way through tiny blood vessels that are currently unreachable with other surgical devices. The idea is to treat cerebral stroke and endovascular conditions by less invasive procedures.

Describe your perfect vacation.

I love going on road trips with my parents, wife and our four children. We’ve been to national parks in various parts of the U.S. There’s nothing better than just packing up and heading out on the road.

What is something people may not know about you?

I like to run at Memorial Park. I’ve actually done 10 marathons.

What is your ideal Saturday?

Taking our children to swim classes. We want to get our children involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible.