From the lab to law school: 2L hopes to use biomedical research background to improve global public health
By: Madeleine Thomas
2L Dhohyung Kim was conducting HIV/AIDS research for the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard University when he decided to transition from a career working in biomedical research to one dedicated to biopharmaceutical patent litigation and prosecution.
As Kim collaborated with scientists, physicians, and biotech experts on his research, the more he started to take note of the role intellectual property plays in pharmaceutical innovation and the effects of public health policy on drug pricing laws. He hopes to use his JD to improve equal access to affordable medication worldwide.
“I became really interested in biopharmaceutical patent litigation because that’s where the drug pricing is set, and they determine the exclusivity of the drugs,” Kim said. “It actually impacts overall global health.”
Using his medical and legal background, Kim aspires to become a litigator for the biopharmaceutical industry and eventually, work for an agency like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—where he externed in the Office of Policy the summer of his 1L year through Moritz’s Washington, D.C. Summer Program—or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This summer, he will join K&L Gates LLP in Chicago as a summer associate and will work mostly within the realms of biopharmaceutical patent litigation and prosecution.
“Even though it’s really different from science, I’m really appreciating a legal education and how I can see the different aspects of how our society works,” he said. “Especially in public health and science, I realize how much law can really impact everyone’s lives.”
Kim was born in Oakland, California and lived in the East Bay until his parents completed their PhDs at the University of California, Berkeley. After a stint living in Germany, Kim and his family returned to Korea, where he went to college. Kim returned to the United States in 2007 to earn a PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from The Ohio State University at the urging of his college mentor in Korea, who admired the research of Dr. Stefan Niewiesk in the College of Veterinary Medicine on the measles vaccine. Kim ultimately helped Niewiesk research how to improve the effectiveness of the current measles vaccine while he earned his PhD at Ohio State.
After Kim graduated with his doctorate, he moved to Boston to research newborn immunology as a postdoctoral research fellow in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and 3M Pharmaceuticals. He spent the next four years conducting HIV research as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Ragon Institute. The decision to apply to Moritz was an easy one, he said.
“I always felt like Ohio was my home because [moving here] was my first time coming back to the states and living by myself out of the country without my family around,” Kim said. “I went through a lot in Ohio and met a lot of really good friends here. Even when I worked in Boston for five years, I always kept in contact with my professors and my friends here. I applied to law school here for obvious reasons.”