Skip to Main Content

Heakyung Kim, M.D.

  • Professor and Chair, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Kimberly-Clark Distinguished Chair in Mobility Research
“Be genuine. Pursue your dream and never give it up.”

Contributions to STEMM

As a Department Chair, Dr. Kim “works with faculty and staff to promote the research, education, and clinical program of the department,” she said. “I also co-direct the Mobility Foundation Center with Neurosurgery.” This includes her role “as a pediatric rehabilitation doctor (pediatric physiatrist), I treat children with muscle stiffness with botulinum toxin (Botox) injections and alcohol nerve blocks to help their function and quality of life. I also help children with frequent aspiration pneumonia (infection) from saliva by injecting botulinum toxin to salivary glands.”

Specifically, Dr. Kim’s work “taking care of many children with cerebral palsy,” sparked her “interest in life-span care for people with cerebral palsy,” she said.

“By participating in the Cerebral Palsy Research Network and Cerebral Palsy Foundation, I am working on quality improvement projects on adults with cerebral palsy and research on pain of adults with CP.”

Early Influences

Dr. Kim was motivated to pursue Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation by “a movie that was written by a person with cerebral palsy. Once I watched this movie, I wanted to help people with cerebral palsy and disabilities,” she said. “Then I wanted to find out how I could help them walk, talk, and eat.”

Growing up, “My parents never told me that I could not do something because I was a young girl,” Dr. Kim said. This support grew her confidence and fostered her desire to pursue medicine.

“I've always wanted to be a doctor. I realized that if you do not give up what you want to be, you will achieve the professional career. Trust yourself and work hard. Do not compare yourself with others.”

Overcoming Challenges

Upon encountering obstacles, “(I look) at myself carefully to identify the causes that bring those barriers. I try not to be emotional. Then, I realize that I am the one who created most of those barriers,” Dr. Kim said. “However, I realize that I am also the one who can come up with the solution.”

The UT Southwestern Difference

“I love my job because I can improve not only patients’ lives but also their families’ lives. I can be curious all the time and do research to find answers to my questions,” Dr. Kim said of her position at UT Southwestern. “I am always in the setting of a teaching and learning environment.”

As a new member of the UT Southwestern faculty, Dr. Kim believes her recognition in the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project will allow her to “learn more about myself as a woman leader and encourage me to work with young career women to navigate their professional career to be successful.”

View Academic Profile