About Dr. Rob

Early Inspiration

My inspiration to become a physician was influenced by my grandfather, Dr. Henry Krochmal, who was one of the last “general practitioners” of his time to make regular house calls. In the days after his death in the early 1990s, the local newspapers in Meriden, Connecticut swelled with letters written by his patients. Reading these letters affected me deeply, knowing how my grandfather had personally touched so many of his patientsʼ lives. A native of Vienna, Austria, Dr. Henry Krochmal completed his medical degree there, studying under the likes of such teachers as Sigmund Freud. Before having the chance to practice his new profession in Europe, young Dr. Henry Krochmal and his family were forced to leave everything behind as they fled Nazi aggression in 1938. Arriving in New York City with nothing more than his Austrian medical degree in hand, Henry worked as a bus boy while earning his new countryʼs medical certifications, going on to build a practice where he treated his patients as holistic individuals for over 50 years, and even offering house calls to the very end!

Biology of the Rainforest

Prior to medical school, I accepted a position as a science teacher in Lima, Peru where I lived and worked for a year, traveling and exploring the country during breaks in the school year. These travel opportunities led me to the discovery of a different healing tradition- that of the Amazon rainforest. I was fortunate to be able to learn about the fascinating–and delicate–biodiversity, culture, and healing traditions of the largest remaining tropical ecosystem on Earth. During this time, I led my biology students to the southern Amazon, where they learned about the ecology and medicinal potential of plants in the rainforest. Years later, as a medical student, I was able to return to the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru, where I assisted in the staffing of a small Andean medical clinic and participated in mentoring sessions with a local shaman in Ollantaytambo.

Passion for Integrative Medicine

Coming into medical school at UCLA having been Influenced by such experiences, I was able to strive to integrate a deeper understanding into my studies of Western medicine. While training at White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles, this integrative perspective towards medicine and healing was nurtured. Embedded in a community rich with elders steeped in knowledge of medicinal plants and traditional cures, yet plagued with burgeoning diseases–obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease– created an opportunity for me to deepen my passion for finding and treating the root causes of disease and suffering. This led me, despite the notoriously long hours during medical internship, on a quest to turn a vacant lot adjacent to the hospital into a community garden. This continuing endeavor has since brought together individuals from the hospital, surrounding community, and local schools for the purpose of transforming this space into an oasis for healing. The garden now includes fruit and vegetable plots, a medicinal herb section, solar panels, and a community area for gathering and exercise. Its mission is to reveal healing as a holistic and natural process. An example of nature thriving in the middle of the city, the garden connects a cutting edge medical center with the healing power of plants, the importance of healthy food, and a space for community to come together and teach each other.

Following the completion of my training in Family Medicine, I went on to a two-year fellowship at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. There, I researched the interplay between genetic and nutritional factors in health and disease and studied the effects of medicinal plants and phytonutrients on human health. During this time, I was able to study a broad range of medical literature documenting the healing properties and mechanisms of plant-based medicines and nutrients. Furthermore, I was trained in medical approaches to weight management and was introduced to principles of traditional healing systems from around the world. Specifically, I studied families of antioxidants, such as polyphenols in green tea, anthocyanidins in pomegranates, and other compounds from a variety of fruits and vegetables. In addition, I was fortunate to be able to study the effects of Cordyceps sinensis, a fascinating Chinese mushroom known to increase exercise capacity.

I am blessed to be currently residing in Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains, where I’m able to continue to draw upon the healing energy of nature, and be engaged with soil, plants, insects, and animals. This is an ongoing reminder to me of the connection between a healthy ecosystem and the health of individuals who inhabit it.

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Community Service

My Health Journey