Dr. Ronald Kobayashi was born and raised in Los Angeles. After college at UCLA, Kobayashi graduated from USC Medical School (he’s a loyal Trojan football fan). He married his wife, Naomi, while in medical school, then they spent seven years living on the East Coast, where he trained in internal medicine at The New York Hospital, neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and neuro pharmacology research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Institutes of Health. They also lived in Japan for two years while Kobayashi served in the U.S. Army in various capacities, including stints as a general medical officer.
In 1974, he returned to California to pursue research, teaching and clinical care at UCSD School of Medicine. Following that, he was in private practice for 24 years. His clinical focus was on Parkinson’s disease and related neurological disorders. He was the first Parkinson’s disease specialist in San Diego. During his clinical years, he was the neurologist for the San Diego Chargers.
Currently, he’s president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association and member of the board of the Parkinson’s Disease Association of San Diego, which is honoring him at Spirit of Life Award Dinner on Oct. 26 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.
Q: What brought you to La Jolla?The reasons were both professional opportunity (to join the faculty of UCSD Medical School) and personal (my wife and I thought it would be a wonderful place to raise our two daughters. They went on to graduate from La Jolla High School).
Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?La Jolla is special to us because of its sense of community, where people know and care about each other. We’ve found La Jolla residents to be both diverse and multi-talented. Also, it has great natural beauty and wonderful weather year round.
Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?I’d like to retain the small village atmosphere, and limit the commercialization and the trend towards “mansionization.”
Q: Who or what inspires you?Creative and curious people.
Q: What do you do for fun?I have three major interests. Photography has been my life-long hobby and I like to think it stimulates both sides of my brain (doctors are so left-brain dominant). Golf gets me outdoors and has been a common bond with some wonderful people. Sports cars appeal to my technical side and provide a great adrenalin rush.
Q: What is your most prized possession?My Mac computers. With them, my world seems endless and my curiosity is given free rein.
Q: What are you currently reading?I recently finished “Sports Car and Competition Driving” by Paul Frere, international racing champion, automotive engineer and writer, who died this year. I’ve just started “Dog Man” by Martha Sherrill, about the single-minded mission of a Japanese man to save the akita, the historic dog of Japan, from extinction.
Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?Charles Darwin (I envied his explorations when he was a youth and marveled at the senior biologist whose publication of “On The Origin of Species” challenged the scientific world); Jacob Bronowski (who used scientific understanding to trace the development of human society in “The Ascent of Man” and made it so educational and stimulating); Phil Hill (the first American to win the Formula 1 World Driving Championship and who died this year with Parkinson’s disease); Raymond Adams, M.D. (my professor of neurology at Harvard Med); Irwin Kopin, M.D. (my lab chief at the NIH); Louis Ruykeyser (who educated us on TV about financial investing while at the same time entertaining us); Pablo Picasso (whose creativity took painting into new directions); and Naomi (my longest-standing dinner companion and muse).
Q: Describe your greatest accomplishment.
While I’ve very much enjoyed my professional career and its highpoints, I feel that my greatest challenges and rewards have been as a parent and husband. For these, I had no formal education and it has been a process of observing and monitoring what works and doesn’t. It’s been so much fun having our two daughters and sharing their lives as they grew and developed.
Q: What is your motto or philosophy of life?To do each task as well as possible and to make each day complete and meaningful.