Physician Profile: Curren Warf, M.D.
Curren serves as medical director of the high risk youth program and adolescent medicine fellowship program at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Hearing Curren describe his work, I came to see that adolescent medicine, by definition, requires a diverse set of skills. Perhaps most important among these skills is social awareness as so many teen afflictions are associated with social issues. Drug use, sexual activity, eating disorders, depression, violence – each of these individual pathologies stem in part from social and political pathologies. Being socially aware may therefore make you a better adolescent medicine doctor.
And Curren is nothing if not socially aware. On gun violence, Curren is one of the state’s leading voices, having recently served as co-chair of the Los Angeles County’s Violence Prevention Coalition. His interest in halting gun violence derives from his work in the 1980’s when he worked as a physician’s assistant and medical student at the King/Drew Medical Center emergency room. “There would be five to six gunshot wounds per night,” Curren says. “The area is impacted by violence that the U.S. Army trains its trauma surgeons there.” He adds, “The fact that it’s somehow okay for hundreds of young men and women to die in LA streets every year – and we call ourselves civilized – it’s simply unfathomable.”
Dr. Warf was a leading speaker at PSR-LA’s Cease Fire symposium in 1994; the very year that homicide was leading cause of death among children in California.
Curren came late to medicine. In the 1960’s he traveled extensively in Latin America, even picked sugar cane in Cuba. In the 1970’s he worked as a political organizer near downtown LA, later becoming a PA. In the 1980’s he attended UCLA Medical School of Medicine (and was then a member of Student Physicians for Social Responsibility) and performed his residency and pediatric fellowship at Childrens Hospital.
Dr. Warf also feels passionately about access to care as well as the US role in achieving peace and global security. “PSR has such prestige and authority on peace issues,” he says, “I’d like to see the organization take an even greater role in opposing the Iraq War.”
Peace activism appears to run in the family. Curren’s father, James C. Warf, is a founder of the Federation of American Scientists, and the author of “All Things Nuclear” (soon to be available in an updated, expanded edition) and is one of the nation’s most respected authorities on radioactivity.
Curren is also assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He is active within American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapter Two. He directs a program with the LA Free Clinic serving homeless and runaway youth. He is on the staff of the Vista del Mar center in Palms, treating emotionally disturbed teens in a quiet setting as an alternative to juvenile hall.
He lives in Silver Lake with his wife, Susan Rabinovitz, and stepson, Michael.