Daniel Kim


Daniel Kim (ISPP 2000-2001) is the Senior Program Manager of the Program on Medicine and Religion based out of the University of Chicago. He is also Managing Editor of the journal, “Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.” For Daniel, the above questions are asked in the context of public health and religious communities.“I’ve always been interested in this because of the context I grew up in. I always wanted to serve, and studying Public Health was a natural and obvious tool - I thought it had a maximum impact in improving people’s lives.” Daniel then became more and more interested in the ethical aspects of public health, which is a growing discipline in the study of medicine.

Due to Daniel’s international upbringing in Pakistan, South Korea, England, Philippines, and Cambodia, he was exposed to different approaches to public health by many non-government organizations, both secular and non-secular. For Daniel, it is interesting to see how these organizations interact with each other, in both positive and negative ways and how we can constructively debate and discuss differences that arise. For example, what each institution has to say over condom distribution.  

Daniel and his family moved to Cambodia for Daniel’s last year of high school. For those international kids who have experienced a big move at the end of high school, they can understand why Daniel felt  “in-transit” since he already knew he was on his way to college and only had one year left. However, Daniel was still able to throw himself into school life, make many friends, and create lasting memories. He holds many fond feelings of his time there: “I was one of only two students in the Grade 12 that year. But it was an embracing community, and no one was really isolated or felt like an outsider. Everyone got along. I appreciate it and miss it. The culture is different from a lot of places in the sense it was supportive.” 

Daniel and his friends at his graduation ceremony in 2001.

After graduating ISPP, Daniel attended Wheaton College, Illinois, USA, and earned his Bachelors of Arts in History in 2005. From there, he went on to complete two (yes, two!) Masters degrees at Yale University, one MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Public Health and one MA in Religious Ethics at the Yale Divinity School. If that isn’t enough, Daniel has decided to begin his PhD in Religious Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School later this year.

Daniel will focus his doctoral studies on the distinct philosophies and practices of Christianity when it comes to public health: “I essentially want to understand what it means to be a human being, to flourish as a human being, and to live a meaningful human life. Christian theology has a very long tradition of asking such questions. I want to study some of those answers and consider their implications for what we do in global health and why. I have a hunch that the Christian, even in public health, stands or falls with the notion of love—a love that is just. I want to think about that during my PhD studies and beyond, and invite others to do the same.” 

While answering this deep questions, Daniel feels blessed to study and work hard, while coming home to a happy family. Daniel married in 2007 and describes his first meeting with his future wife as “love at first-ten-minute-conversation.” In 2008, they had their first daughter, followed by their son in 2012. His sister Shinae Kim Altena (featured in last week’s alumni profile) lives forty minutes away – close enough to babysit when needed.

Daniel and his happy family.