Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen is one in a new generation of outstanding Tibetan Medical Doctors. Having spent his life gaining expertise in both Tibetan Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Medicine, Dr. Gyaltsen’s proficiency in clinical treatment (specializing in digestive disorders), his many public teachings and scholarly writings on the approaches of Tibetan Medicine, combined with 34 years of training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk offer exceptional and rare knowledge in ways to keep the body, mind, and spirit healthy.
In August 2010, Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen, completed his doctoral degree (PhD) in Public Health at UCLA and returned to his homeland in Tso Ngo (ch: Qinghai Province, PRC) where he is now on the faculty of TsoNgon (ch: Qinghai) University Tibetan Medical College. He will continue to conduct research and teaches Tibetan medical students in graduate level courses, working on improving the curriculum and training of medical students, and developing modern research methodology and thesis writing courses, bringing public health to a new level of awareness among Tibetan health professionals. In addition, we will be better able to understand and design strategies to address needs in women’s health care and education because of his in-country presence.
Kunchok Gyaltsen was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in 1981 at Kumbum Monastery in Amdo, Tibet currently called Qinghai Province, P.R. China. From a young age he studied and practiced both Buddhism and Tibetan Medicine under the guidance of knowledgeable teachers at Kumbum Monastery and skilled doctors at Kumbum Tibetan Medical Hospital. Kunchok Gyaltsen was instructed in both the Tibetan Medicine Teaching Lineage and the Medicine Buddha Initiation Lineage under the founder of Kumbum Tibetan Medical Hospital, Tashi Rinpoche, and two of Tibet’s most senior physicians at that time Aku Ngakwan Tenzin and Kanpo Toru Tsenam. Dr. Gyaltsen continues to uphold and preserve the unbroken chain of these two lineages.
After completing the first National Tibetan Medical Training since the Cultural Revolution, and demonstrating expertise in Tibetan Medical Theory, Human Anatomy, Pathology, and Traditional Medicine– its preparation and prescriptions, Kunchok Gyaltsen was recognized by Kumbum Monastery as a Tibetan Medical Doctor in 1984. In 1991, Dr. Gyaltsen became certified in Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Sanskrit Studies from the Tibetan Medical College in Lhasa. He was officially licensed as a Tibetan Medical Doctor by the Health Bureau of Qinghai Province, P.R. China, in 1992, and soon thereafter accepted the position of Deputy Director of the Red Cross Branch Hospital at Kumbum Monastery. Dr. Gyaltsen has held the position of Executive Director of Kumbum Tibetan Medical Hospital since 2001, overseeing a staff of thirty medical professionals and trainees.
Guided by his vision of spreading Tibetan Medicine beyond the regions of Tibet to serve as many people as possible, Dr. Gyaltsen facilitated the opening of Kumbum Tibetan Medical Hospital’s first branch clinic in Beijing, P.R. China in 2003. Since then, an outpatient clinic in Shenyang City (eastern China) and a small hospital near Xianjiang (western China) have opened their doors expanding the use of Tibetan medicine across the P.R. China. Kumbum Tibetan Medical Hospital is currently the largest facility of its kind; reputed for its quality care, professionalism, and pharmaceutical expertise.
From 2001 to 2004 Dr. Gyaltsen was the Program Officer in Amdo Province for Trace Foundation (based in New York City), establishing and overseeing rural development projects in basic education and primary health care management, including providing clean drinking water to rural Tibetans and health education materials and trainings to village doctors and maternal health workers.
In 2001, Dr. Gyaltsen founded the Tibetan Healing Fund, a non-profit organization with offices in both Amdo Province and Seattle, Washington, whose mission is to provide basic education and primary health care to rural Tibetan women and children. Today the Tibetan Healing Fund serves a growing number of isolated and impoverished women and children in the Tibetans regions of northeastern P.R. China. Tibetan Healing Fund projects include bilingual and bicultural education, community midwife training and health education and outreach.
Since 2003, Dr. Kunchok Gyaltsen has been nationally recognized as a scholar in his field by the National government. He is the Assistant Editor and Translator (Chinese to Tibetan) of the medical textbook on western Epidemiology, part of a twenty-eight book series to be published by the National Government in 2007 for distribution in university medical courses for Tibetans. Dr. Gyaltsen was also the Vice Author of the medical textbook on Diagnoses, part of an exclusive Tibetan Medical textbook series entitled 21st Century Medical College Textbook Series, published in 2005. These Tibetan Medical textbooks, officially issued by the National government, are now studied in university public health and training courses throughout the Tibetan-speaking provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, TAR, Sichuan and Yunnan.
In 2003, Dr. Gyaltsen was bestowed with an honorary Associate Professorship from Qinghai University Tibetan Medical College. He is working with the school to create a public health curriculum in the Tibetan Medical College. This program will integrate western theories of public health, folk customs and Tibetan medicine.
Dr. Gyaltsen has published and lectured widely in the U.S. and elsewhere on the holistic approach of Tibetan Medicine. His lectures integrate his extensive knowledge of medical theory, history and practice combined with the ethics learned through his Buddhist studies. As a Buddhist monk, Kunchok Gyaltsen’s life vocation is to benefit others; his life’s work as a practicing doctor, author and teacher upholds this altruistic aspiration.
Dr. Gyaltsen is the first Tibetan to earn a PhD in Public Health at the UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles.