Cancer biology

 The overarching goal of our research is to better define critical factors (i.e., genes, RNAs, proteins, pathways) that influence the multiple facets of cancer development, progression, and relapse. We have a particular focus on regulators that: (1) mediate the interactions between tumor and the microenvironment, (2) define the cancer immune landscape, (3) elucidate cancer metabolism, (3) regulate cancer epigenetic changes, (4) metastasis, and (5) therapy resistance, with the goal of improving existing therapies or developing novel therapeutic approaches. In doing so, we use a combination of clinical data, patient-derived models, animal models, experimental methods, and bioinformatics. 
Current projects:
  • Defining the epigenetic landscapes of regulatory regions in human breast cancer 
  • Dissecting the role of hypoxia and glycosylation in human breast cancer metastasis
  • Characterization of cancer-specific exosomes in canine cancer
  • Investigating the implication of senescence in tumor-immune interactions in canine cancers
  • Establishing canine cancer-derived organoids
  • Biology of cancer drug persisters and resistance evolution 

Comparative medicine

 Our lab is situated at the College of Veterinary Medicine and hosts a number of veterinarian-scientists whose goal is to provide scientific perspectives on human diseases by studying naturally occurring diseases in companion animals (i.e., cancers in canines) and creating appropriate animal models to dissect mechanisms. A major interest of our lab is comparative medicine. We aim to understand the effects of genomic variation on disease phenotypes by integrating diverse functional genomic datasets of transcription, chromatin modifications, regulator binding, among others, across multiple conditions. Overall, we value the opportunity of studying companion animal diseases to identify disease-associated genes, study environmental risk factors, understand tumor biology and progression, and most importantly, provide a basic foundation to novel therapeutics.
Current projects:
  • Comparative medicine discovery in human and canine mammary cancers
  • Methylome profiling of immune cells in human and canine mammary cancers
  • Comprehensive analysis of genomic landscapes of immune cells in human and canine mammary cancers

Stem cells

 We have a great interest in studying bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, endothelial progenitor cells, iPSCs, and other stem cell-derived systems. We are fascinated by the process of angiogenesis, cell renewal, organ size and regeneration, and cell differentiation and how mechanisms that regulate them contribute to disease phenotypes. We are dedicated in establishing important basic knowledge on how tissues maintain a steady state and function using stem cells and how disease dysregulates these processes. We aim to further the translational impact of our research by collaborating with medical centers and institutions.
Current projects:
  • Angiogenesis and vascular biology
  • Stem cell differentiation and renewal

Functional proteo(geno)mics

  We are originally a biomarker lab that aimed to identify new disease biomarkers at the protein level and mechanistically identify functions of newly identified targets. Now we aim to innovate our biomarker research program by innovating new targets using a proteogenomics approach. Proteogenomics is an exciting aspect of biological mass spectrometry that combines proteomics information with sample genomic and transcriptomic information. Using this approach, we aim to link disease-specific protein modification and coding region changes with massive genomic variants and other types of data. With our close connection with Protanbio Inc., we serve as a basic discovery facility that aims to provide a novel basis for disease detection developments, be it cancer or viral infections.  We are also a part of C-HPP project of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO), an initiative to finally address the incomplete proteome information that include uncharacterized products for known protein coding genes, variants generated by alternative splicing and coding SNPs, and a comprehensive characterization of major post-translational modifications. Finally, our lab is also recognized as an official affiliate lab of the Korea Mouse Phenotypic Center (KMPC). As a KMPC-designated lab, we focus on providing high-throughput proteomics data from hundreds of knockout mouse models to generate a conduit of information that can be used for basic and medical science purposes. 
Current projects:
  • Biomarker discovery in human and canine mammary cancers
  • Biomarker discovery in immune diseases
  • C-HPP project
  • KMPC project
  • Glycoproteomics in cancer

Cardiac biology and disease

 As an extension of our basic biology research programs, we have developed a keen interest in understanding the secrets of heart function and disease. Our researchers who work in this field focus on identifying regulatory factors that impact cardiac function specification and engineering cell-based implants and therapies that can be used to manage and treat myocardial infarction. We use knockout and myocardial infarction mouse models in doing so. We aim to expand our expertise in this arena to further investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with disease-specific dysregulation in heart development and innovating stem cell-based therapies for cardiac diseases. 
Current projects:
  • Discovery of a long non-coding RNA player in cardiac function
  • Development of stem cell-based implants for myocardial infarction
  • Biology of myocardial infarction