Ken Kitayama was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Japanese-Peruvian parents who themselves were born and raised in Lima, Peru. He grew up in southern California and later went on to graduate from Columbia University in 2010, where he double-majored in Neuroscience & Behavior and Hispanic Studies. Ken spent the next year conducting research in the Department of General Pediatrics at the Columbia University Medical Center, evaluating e-health interventions and a youth medical program, both of which were designed to improve outcomes in the Harlem/Washington Heights neighborhoods of Manhattan. He then returned home to California where he volunteered at the Orange County Health Care Agency, assisting with Medi-Cal enrollment and a pilot obesity prevention program at the Family Health Clinics. The year prior to enrolling in medical school, Ken completed a term of service with Community HealthCorps (AmeriCorps) at AltaMed Health Services, a large Federally Qualified Health Center in Los Angeles, working on routine HIV testing at primary care clinic sites. As a member of UCLA PRIME, Ken was also involved in a project designed to implement study skills workshops and mentorship activities for at-risk youth at Optimist Youth Family Homes. Ken’s research interests include the application and evaluation of appropriate e-health interventions adapted for optimal impact in under-resourced communities. He is also interested in the articulation of cross-cultural identity, both historically (i.e., the artistic manifestation of the clash between Iberian and pre-Hispanic civilizations) and in the modern day (i.e., third culture individuals’ search for personal identity).

Undergrad Institution: Columbia University

Hometown: Fountain Valley, CA