By TAMAR LEWIN
Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a Harvard Medical School official who has fought diseases that affect the poor around the world, has been named the next president of Dartmouth College.
Dr. Kim, 49, trained as both a physician and an anthropologist, receiving his M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
He is an unusual choice for a university president. He is known less for his academic achievements than for his groundbreaking work as co-founder of Partners in Health, and then at the World Health Organization, bringing effective medical treatment for H.I.V. and AIDS and for drug-resistant tuberculosis to the poor.
Dr. Kim, who will be the first Asian-American to head an Ivy League institution, will take up the post in July, succeeding James Wright, 69, who has been president of Dartmouth for 11 years.
In an interview on Monday, Dr. Kim said he was excited about taking on a broad leadership role in education.
“At some point, you have to decide whether you’re going to keep throwing your body at a problem, which is what I’ve always done,” he said. “You realize that one person can’t do that much. So what I want to do is train an army of leaders to engage with the problems of the world, who will believe the possibilities are limitless, that there’s nothing they can’t do. Being the president of an Ivy League university is an amazing opportunity.”
Dr. Kim, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, immigrated with his family to the United States at age 5. He grew up in Muscatine, Iowa, where his was one of only two Asian families. He attended Muscatine High School, where he was valedictorian, president of his class and quarterback of the football team. He then went to Brown University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1981.
Since the 1980s, Dr. Kim’s career has been entwined with that of Paul Farmer, his medical school friend and the subject of Tracy Kidder’s popular book “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.”
Together, they started Partners in Health, a nonprofit organization that focused on drug-resistant tuberculosis, first in Haiti and then in other countries, and helped drive down the cost of medication so that treatment could be widely available.
Dr. Kim received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2003. He is married to Dr. Younsook Lim, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston. They have two sons, one an 8-year-old and the other born on Friday.
Dr. Kim is chairman of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He continues to teach undergraduate classes, and plans to teach undergraduates at Dartmouth.