On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, Hong Jin Kim, MD, was honored with Ted B. Seagroves, Jr. Distinguished Professorship. The event, which took place at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, was marked by speeches that honored and recognized the late friend, father, and husband Ted B. Seagroves, Jr. and the remarkable career of Dr. Hong Jin Kim.

Ted B. Seagroves, Jr.

Pete Seagroves, son of Ted B. Seagroves, Jr., took the stage to talk about his father. Theodore “Ted” Baxter Seagroves, Jr., was a Durham native, Durham High School graduate and Vietnam veteran who owned Ted B. Seagroves Insurance Agency from 1971 until his passing in 2014. Seagroves supported many charities and fund-raising organizations in Chapel Hill, served on countless boards in the community, was a very active member of Chapel Hill Country Club, and was a well-known supporter of UNC athletics, especially men’s basketball. Ted Seagroves was considered the “unofficial mayor” of Chapel Hill and was inducted into the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Business Hall of Fame. “My dad’s glass was always overflowing, never half full,” Pete recalls, “he never had a bad day. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Kim and Lineberger (Cancer Center) we had two and a half fantastic years with my dad.”

Coach Roy Williams and Pete Seagroves sharing stories about Ted Seagroves

Coach Roy A. Williams and Pete Seagroves say a few words about Ted Seagroves, father, friend, and pillar of the Chapel Hill community.Standing beside Pete was Roy A. Williams, UNC Men’s Basketball Coach. He shared kind words and insightful, hilarious stories about his best friend. “Teddy was an unusual person. He was the best friend I had in this town without any question. He would do anything for anybody and would do some things for me. I miss him terribly, but not nearly as much as his family does. I remember the day he told me he had pancreatic cancer. It was a tough time because I loved the guy, still do. Giving Ted’s family, me, and Wanda another two and a half years with Teddy was the greatest gift anybody could possibly ask for.”

Roy and Wanda Williams with the Kim family.

The Ted B. Seagroves, Jr. Distinguished Professorship was established in June of 2019 to honor and recognize the importance of Hong Jin Kim, MD, to the UNC Department of Surgery and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Kim is a tenured Professor and Vice Chair of Strategy and Outreach in the Department of Surgery and the Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery in the UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. Kim joined UNC in 2001 as an Assistant Professor on the tenure track in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery. In 2008, he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and in 2013 to Professor with tenure. In 2014, he was named Chief in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery and in 2017, was appointed Vice Chair of Strategy and Outreach.

As a surgical oncologist, Dr. Kim’s clinical specialties include GI cancers with a focus on pancreatic cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, and hepatobiliary malignancies. Dr. Kim has been instrumental in developing and expanding research in the field of pancreatic cancer. His research has focused on the mechanisms of chemoresistance in GI cancers and sarcomas and the role of palladin in the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic adenocarcinomas.

Dr. Kim has published 86 peer-reviewed manuscripts in scientific and surgical journals and authored ten book chapters. He has delivered 115 presentations at regional, national, and international meetings. His national reputation is confirmed by his ongoing reviewer status for prestigious journals that include Annals of Surgical Oncology, Surgery, and Annals of Surgery, to name a few. He has served on the editorial boards of several surgical oncology journals and is co-Section Head of the Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Section of the Journal of Surgical Oncology.

Dr. Melina Kibbe, Chair of the Department of Surgery, spoke about Dr. Kim’s many accomplishments, not just as a surgical oncologist but in his multiple roles as an educator, mentor, researcher, husband, father, son, and friend. She spoke at length about Dr. Kim’s journey to become a physician from his roots in Seoul, South Korea, to Dartmouth College where he received his undergraduate degree in sociology and biology and rowed crew. Dr. Kim matriculated to the University of Virginia for medical school and completed his general surgery residency at the University of Chicago.

Drs. Melina Kibbe and Shelton Earp presenting Dr. Hong Jin Kim with the UNC Well statue during the investiture event.

Dr. Shelton Earp, the Director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, gave remarks about Dr. Kim’s remarkable career at UNC. “To be a Distinguished Professor it takes more than being a great scientist; it takes being a great person who dedicates oneself to the greater good of the institution. HJ is a renaissance man, a quadruple threat. He has done many things throughout his career that have distinguished him; he’s a mentor, a scientist, a translator. He’s someone who has changed the University of North Carolina. He has a thirst for knowledge, a desire to understand cancer’s root cause, and a dedication to patients. HJ has set the bar high with clinical care at the highest level with true compassion and understanding his patients. He is a Distinguished Professor.”

Kim family

Dr. Kim rounded out the evening by offering thanks to the many people who came to support him and to celebrate this accomplishment with him. Sitting in the front row were his loving family members that he referred to as his “Giants,” including his wife Dana, and children Kristina, Jessica, and Charlie. Dr. Kim’s parents attended the event to celebrate in their son’s accomplishment, Hyun Kyung and Suk Kew Kim—also known as Helen and Sam. He thanked Drs. Kibbe and Earp along with the mentors who supported him. “I have an amazing division of surgical oncology; I have a great cancer group with the medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, fellows, residents, and medical students. I can’t imagine staying at an institution this long without having those fantastic partners.”

Dr. Kim concluded his remarks by talking about Ted B. Seagroves and his family. “I really miss Ted. And I truly love his family. The most meaningful memory I have of Ted was right before Thanksgiving. I got a text telling me that Ted wasn’t doing great, so I went by his house late one evening. I sat in the living room with Ted and Judy for a little while. At this point, Ted had gotten pretty weak, but every now and then he would wake up, and you could see the light in his eyes. I left the home to sit in my car for 30 minutes, and it was then that I decided we had to do better with pancreas cancer. Ted Seagroves died on December 2. If you ever want a humbling experience, go and watch one of your patients die. It helped me resolve myself to this cause, to understanding this disease, and to dedicate the rest of my career to this purpose. I think that is what this professorship is about. Allowing us the opportunity to have the time, flexibility to focus on something that I care deeply about. I am honored to be the first recipient of the Ted. B. Seagroves, Jr. Distinguished Professorship.“

To see more photos from the event, check out the photo album.