The University of Texas Health Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
In response to daily environmental changes imposed by Earth’s rotation, almost all species, ranging from cyanobacteria to humans, have evolved physiological and behavioral rhythms, called circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are not passive responses to environmental changes; rather, they are driven by an active clock system, capable of anticipating changes and coordinating tissue specific function and generating systemic output responses. The harmony between our intrinsic biological timing and the daily environmental oscillation is critical to physiological well-being; conversely, disrupted circadian rhythms have been shown to cause or increase the risk of various chronic diseases. In our lab, we focus on delineating fundamental cellular mechanisms in circadian rhythms and also deciphering physiological and pathological roles of the clock. Our long-term goal is to translate such fundamental mechanistic knowledge into new drug targets and therapeutic strategies for improved prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Currently, my lab are pursuing several projects, using an integrative approach combining mouse models with molecular and cellular mechanistic studies. In one project, we investigate the role of miRNAs in circadian clock regulation using a second-generation circadian reporter mouse line Per2::LucSV, with a particular focus on the mechanistic relationship between clock robustness and metabolic health. In another project, we investigate the role of a circadian E3 ligase in heart failure induced skeletal muscle atrophy using a novel transgenic mouse model. As part of the renowned lung research community at UTHealth, my lab is also actively investigating clock functions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Armed with profound knowledge of the clock and broad experience in cutting-edge technologies, our research will advance our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of the clock and how best to exploit it for novel therapies against pressing human health concerns.
Tutorial students will perform independent research studies with direct supervision from me and other senior staff members in the lab. Students will be able to learn a selective set of laboratory skills including molecular, biochemical, cellular and mouse related physiological and behavioral techniques, as well as next-generation sequencing based big-data approaches. Students will also be encouraged to develop critical thinking and presentation skills. The ultimate goal of tutorial and thesis work in my lab is to enrich knowledge and enhance skills transferrable to future successful careers.
Education & Training
Ph.D. - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology - 2004
Biological rhythm (circadian clock) using an integrative approach combining mouse models with molecular and cellular mechanistic studies.