Junhyong Kim

2010 - US & Canada Competition
Natural Sciences - Molecular & Cellular Biology


Junhyong Kim is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term-Endowed Professor of Biology and the Director of the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his B.S. in microbiology from Seoul National University in Korea, he undertook his graduate studies in population genetics, mathematical phylogenetics, and evolution at SUNY Stony Brook, earning an M.S. and Ph.D. there. On completing his doctorate in 1992, he received a two-year NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to work in the lab of Dr. Margaret Kidwell, where he honed his laboratory and molecular evolution skills.

His first academic appointment was as Assistant Professor of Biology at Yale University in 1994. At Yale, he started a research program for studying the evolution of development in Drosophila; his work on this subject earned him a Sloan Young Investigator Award in Molecular Evolution. During this time, Yale also recognized his achievements with its Seessel Award in Biochemistry and its Junior Faculty Award.

After eight years at Yale, Junhyong Kim accepted his current position at the University of Pennsylvania, where he promptly launched two new research programs: one sought to understand the evolution of temporal regulation using budding yeast as model systems; the other studied the function of mammalian neurons using computational biology and comparative genomics. During the second project, he began what has become a continuing close collaboration with James Eberwine, Professor of Pharmacology in Penn’s School of Medicine. Their research demonstrated that the RNA of cells not only determine the identity of cells but that RNA of one cell type, when injected in a cell of another type, can alter the identity of that cell. Their findings, which may obviate the need for embryonic stem-cell technologies, were published in PNAS USA (doi:10.1073/pnas.0902161106) in 2009. His core research interest is in understanding the theoretical structure of dynamical problems in biology.

Junhyong Kim received the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in 2010 and was a Visiting Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge University and the Newton Institute in 2001. In addition to his research and teaching, he is currently Associate Editor of EEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and a member of the editorial board of Molecular Development and Evolution. He is an advisor or committee member of the International Workshop on Algorithms for Bioinformatics, the NSF National Cyber Infrastructure for Phylogenetics Research, the National Center for Evolutionary Synthesis, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Koshland Museum. His research has been supported by the NSF, NIH, and the Sloan, Keck, and Merck foundations.

During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, Junhyong Kim will study genome-scale higher-order evolution.

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