Kwang Yul Cha, M.D., founder of the Korean health-care enterprise CHA Health Systems, was the presenter at last month’s Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer Series.

Cha’s vision for optimal global health care is to cure disease through the collaboration between hospitals, universities, research institutes and biomedical companies, as well as an emphasis on personalized medicine.

Over the last 30 years, Cha Group has opened a network of hospitals affiliated with Cha University School of Medicine throughout major cities in South Korea. Cha Group also operates multiple biomedical and research institutes focusing on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, stem cell research, fertility and anti-aging treatments. With the 2004 acquisition of LA-Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, the largest privately owned hospital in Los Angeles, Cha Group is on its way to becoming a global leader in health care.

“We have optimized the bio-industrialization process from bench to bedside by vertically integrating university, research institutes, biomedical companies and medical centers,” said Cha. “They all communicate with each other. They run like one wheel.”

Along with advancements in bio-industrialization, Cha places equal importance on the advancement of personalized medicine. In 2010, Cha Group opened CHAUM life center in South Korea. Part medical center, part luxury spa, CHAUM fosters optimal health by treating patients holistically, addressing both body and mind. At CHAUM, patients start with a thorough diagnostic review, including genetic analysis, cellular testing and advanced scanning. The comprehensive care includes personalized medical treatments, spa therapies, fitness and nutrition programs. The focus of CHAUM is preventative care — to treat patients before they progress into a diseased state.

“CHAUM is the future of hospitals,” said Cha. “We need a medical paradigm shift from the passive, post-disease treatment in hospitals, to active, preventative, pre-disease care.”

Before becoming a global health-care entrepreneur, Cha was an accomplished reproductive endocrinologist. In 1984, he completed a fellowship in reproductive medicine at USC. Shortly after, he returned to Korea to conduct the world’s first successful completion of adult somatic stem cell cloning. From this groundbreaking foundation, Cha built his enterprise.
“From humble beginnings, great things can be achieved,” said Cha.

— Sharon Brock