Dr. Jiyeon Kim
Dr. Jiyeon Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Her research is focused on fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying cancer metabolism, metabolic pathways and apoptosis. Dr. Kim’s PhD training in the Kornbluth lab at Duke University focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death (apoptosis), and how survival signaling can alter the apoptotic program, thus contributing to human malignancies. To do this, she utilized two cancer models: prostate cancer and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Especially for the CML project, she performed in vivo mouse bone marrow transplants and analyzed blood samples from human leukemia patients. From in vivo leukemia study, she found that sensitizing leukemic cells to apoptotic stress together with targeting survival signaling can synergistically kill these cells and lead to better outcome. These studies allowed her to realize the power of combining basic and translational research to further their understanding of cancer. While studying apoptosis, she became increasingly interested in more fundamental questions of how cellular metabolism becomes dysregulated during malignant transformation. For this reason, Dr. Kim chose to join Dr. DeBerardinis’ lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The focus of her postdoctoral research at UTSW has been to understand the metabolic dependencies of an especially aggressive form of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring mutations in LKB1 and KRAS. With the help of an extensive multidisciplinary network both inside and outside UTSW, she identified a new metabolic liability in this highly aggressive subtype of cancer, and also uncovered an unexpected mechanism of nucleotide metabolism (Kim et al, Nature 2017).