In high school and college, he was drawn to the sciences. “I was interested in questions that people didn’t know the answers to, and was drawn to research,” he says. He attended nearby Fresno State, a place he found small enough to be nurturing but large enough to expose him to substantial research opportunities. After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology, he was accepted to UCSF and awarded a four-year Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship.

“As a student at UCSF, I knew I wasn’t just standing on the shoulders of giants – they were really the ‘Gods of Parnassus’ that surrounded us,” says Yamaguchi. “They were so brilliant in every way; more than one received the Nobel Prize.”

After graduating from UCSF, Yamaguchi went to Boston to complete a head and neck cancer fellowship and chose to then return home to follow a career in surgery. He became UCSF Fresno’s first plastic surgeon, a position he has stayed in to this day.

Yamaguchi’s faculty colleagues and former trainees have so admired him that they are raising funds to establish the Kent T. Yamaguchi Endowed Lectureship in Surgery at UCSF Fresno.

In 2017, Yamaguchi was named UCSF Alumnus of the Year. Previously, he was awarded Alumnus of the Year by Fresno State’s College of Science and Mathematics for his extensive mentorship of students and for helping launch the annual Central California Research Symposium cosponsored by UCSF Fresno.

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