Maleewan Kitcharoensakkul grew up in Khon Kaen, a town in Northeastern Thailand. She is the youngest of six siblings. Her dad was known in Khon Kaen as a mechanic specializing in fixing trucks and large-size automobiles. For Kitcharoensakkul, her dad is the kindest human being who loves art and music. Her mom is the heart and soul of her family. She helped dad run their automobile shop and other family businesses. Her mom is also the best cook! “Gai Pad King,” stir-fried chicken with ginger, and “Tod Mun Moo,” spicy fried pork patty, were among Kitcharoensakkul’s favorite dishes made by her mom. One of her dearest childhood memories was when her dad picked her up from school, and her mom prepared various snacks for her and her siblings before attending after-school activities. Her parents did not have an opportunity to go to college, so they always encouraged her and her siblings to work hard in school and provided them with everything they needed to excel in school.
The first turning point of her life was when Kitcharoensakkul moved 300 miles away from home to attend a high school with a major in health science and then medical school in Bangkok. This was her first practice living “far” away from home. After completing her pediatric residency in Thailand, she worked as a hospitalist for two years. During that time, she had a few fateful meetings that changed her life course. She met Ben Thatayatikom, MD, who completed his training in the U.S., including a rheumatology fellowship at Washington University in St Louis, and Robert Strunk, MD, a visiting professor at the World Allergy Organization Congress in Bangkok. These experiences, along with others, had inspired her to come to the U.S.
She came to St. Louis for residency training and stayed on for a combined fellowship in Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology. Her passions lie in providing patient care and teaching. She is proud to create a Clinical Immunology elective for pediatric residents and medical students. She hopes to make clinical immunology more accessible to learners and attract more trainees to explore the wonderful world of Immunology. Her joy outside work is to spend time with her husband, Surachai, and listen to music. They love traveling, cooking and trying new restaurants. They used to be St. Louis Rams fans, but now they just enjoy watching football and intermittently cheering for LA Rams or teams that play against them.
Kitcharoensakkul appreciates all the opportunities and support she has received from colleagues, faculty, trainees and staff of Washington University and St. Louis Children’s hospital. In addition, she has a great group of friends that give her endless support through highs and lows. She would like to list all of their names here, but it turned out to be too long for this one page to accommodate!