Andrew Wooyoung Kim is a biological anthropologist interested in the lifecourse and intergenerational health consequences of historical trauma and the contributions of such knowledge to movements for transitional justice and collective healing. Dr. Kim’s current research traces the biological mechanisms (e.g. genetics & epigenetics, HPA axis function, inflammation, vascular function) underlying the intergenerational effects of psychosocial stress and political violence from apartheid, as well as processes of reversibility and healing, in Soweto and Johannesburg, South Africa. His work explores these questions in collaboration with a 30-year project called “Birth to Thirty,” a birth cohort study based in Soweto & Johannesburg, South Africa that enrolled over 3000 pregnant women during the dissolution of the apartheid regime and has since documented the lives of these families across multiple generations.
His second project, through a collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of the Witwatersrand and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, examines the politics and experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in community settings and tertiary psychiatric hospitals in metropolitan Johannesburg. This project combines over two years of ethnographic and epidemiological research to examine population mental health trends, the lived experience of psychiatric patients and healthcare workers, and solutions for improving public mental healthcare systems. His newest work characterizes the psychiatric sequelae of acute COVID-19 infection and “long COVID” among adults in Johannesburg.
Dr. Kim’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Social Science Research Council, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Interested students, researchers, and practitioners are encouraged to contact Dr. Kim for potential opportunities in and collaborations with the Kim Lab.
I received my Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2020 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. I also hold honorary appointments in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand through my wonderful, long-term collaborations with the South African Medical Research Council/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit and the Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office (HE²RO).
My research documents the biological, developmental, and health consequences of societal oppression and identifies strategies to promote resistance and healing in historically marginalized communities. My collaborators and I aim to conduct this work through a critical analysis of the history, culture, and politics of health inequities in local contexts and by centering the experiences of directly affected people. Finally, I am broadly interested in the interface of biology and culture to understand patterns of human health, development, and experience. This research is based in the Kim Lab, a wet lab focused on biomarker sample analysis and a separate computing facility located at the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
Kim, A.W., Maaroganye, K., Subramaney, U. (2021). Mental health experiences of public psychiatric healthcare workers during COVID-19 across southern Gauteng, South Africa: A call for strengthening public mental healthcare. 2021 South African Health Review
Kim, A. W., Nyengerai, T., & Mendenhall, E. (2020). Evaluating the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: perceived risk of COVID-19 infection and childhood trauma predict adult depressive symptoms in urban South Africa. Psychological Medicine, 1-13.
Kim, A. W. (2020). How should we study intergenerational trauma? Reflections on a 30-year birth cohort study in Soweto, South Africa. Somatosphere
Kim, A.W., Adam, E.K., Bechayda, S.A., Kuzawa, C.W. (2020). Early life exposure to domestic violence and HPA axis function independently predict adult depression in metropolitan Cebu, Philippines. American Journal of Biological Anthropology
Kim, A. W., Kaiser, B., Bosire, E., Shahbazian, K., & Mendenhall, E. (2019). Idioms of resilience among cancer patients in urban South Africa: An anthropological heuristic for the study of culture and resilience. Transcultural Psychiatry, 56(4), 720-747.