Throughout his career with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and major public health institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, Dr. Robert Kim-Farley has worked to prevent and stem the spread of infectious diseases around the world.

But when all his infection-fighting efforts are distilled down to their essence, said the professor of epidemiology and community health sciences, they are about one simple quality: kindness.

“Public health, as it seeks social justice and protects and serves the most vulnerable in our communities, is putting kindness into concrete societal action,” he said.

The importance of kindness is something Kim-Farley emphasizes both in his role on the faculty advisory committee of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute and in his Fiat Lux public health seminar, “Happiness: What Is It and How Should We Pursue It?”

In anticipation of the 24th annual World Kindness Day, on Nov. 13, he spoke about the kind acts we, individually and collectively, can engage in — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — to protect and show our respect for one another.  

“Kindness, when manifested at the societal level, will lead everyone to a recognition that simply being vaccinated and wearing a mask reduce rates of viral transmission in the community, help prevent us from becoming infected and … help prevent us from transmitting the infection to others who may be elderly or have preexisting medical conditions that make them vulnerable to severe disease and death,” he said.

Read the full Q&A with Kim-Farley on the Fielding School website.