Q&A with pediatric otolaryngologist Keiko Hirose

photo of Keiko Hirose on a scuba diving trip

Becoming a physician may have been an obvious choice for Keiko Hirose, MD, but she ultimately discovered that splitting her time between surgery and the basic science lab has led to a uniquely rewarding career.

What was your childhood like?

I was born in New York City, and I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. I am the child of two physicians, and I have three brothers, who are all general surgeons. One is a transplant surgeon, one is a pediatric surgeon and the youngest is a hepatobiliary surgeon. They all live in Northern California. Once, all three of them were scrubbed in on the same case – a pediatric organ transplant – one was an attending, one was a fellow and the youngest was a resident, all at UCSF. 

photo of Hirose carving pumpkin
Hirose participated in the 2019 Pumpkin Wars which pitted St. Louis Children’s Hospital surgeons against local chefs in a pumpkin carving contest.

What has your career path looked like and how long have you been with Washington University?

I have been at Washington University School of Medicine for 15 years now. My first faculty position was at the Cleveland Clinic. 

What advice would you give to med students or residents considering the role of clinician/scientist?

It is a unique and rewarding experience to be able to contribute at both ends of the “bench-to-bedside” spectrum. I wholeheartedly support trainees who want to pursue that adventure. 

If not medicine, what career path might you have chosen?

I was very interested in international affairs and political sciences. I was a Russian major and French minor in college, and I lived in France during my senior year in high school. I grew up speaking Japanese and English. I love to learn new languages. 

photo of Hirose with puppy
Surgeon’s best friend: Hirose enjoys some time with her Havanese companion.

What spare time activity brings you the most joy?

I have a one-year-old Havanese puppy who is great fun and wonderful company. Training her and watching her learn tricks is a source of constant live entertainment. I also enjoy kayaking, rowing, swimming, hiking and gardening.

Is there a special something at the top of your bucket list, and why?

I would love to go scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands while the coral reef and wild life are still vibrant. 

What would most surprise your colleagues to learn about you?

I have a fantasy of opening a French pastry shop. I am also the great-great-granddaughter of Mikito Takayasu, the ophthalmologist who discovered Takayasu’s arteritis, a rare type of vasculitis that causes inflammation of the aorta and its main branches.