Established position as primary authority of tDNA structure research in international science
Discovered the cause of cancer manifestation, developed anti-cancer drugs and launched a venture startup building on his research on protein structure
Pioneered new horizons for proteomics and genomics through linkage with AI and big data
Honorary professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA
- Academic background
Graduated from Seoul National University with major in chemistry
Master’s degree in natural science from Seoul National University (physical chemistry)
Ph.D. degree in natural science from University Pittsburgh, USA (physical chemistry, 3-D structural science)
- Professional career
Honorary professor at University of California, Berkeley, USA
Professor at Duke University, USA
Director of Melvin Calvin Research Institute of University of California
Full member of US National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Special professor at the Graduate School of Yonsei University, and visiting professor at KAIST and Incheon National University
- Awards received
Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award (Department of Energy, USA)
Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award (NIH, USA)
Princess Takamatsu Award (Japan)
Ho-Am Prize (Ho-Am Foundation, Korea)
Professor Sung-Hou Kimis a globally renowned biophysiography expert who disclosed the 3-dimensional structure of tDNA for the first time in history and who pioneered the investigation of the 3-dimensional structure of a cancer-related protein.
He was born in Daegu, Korea in 1937 and received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the Chemistry Department of Seoul National University. He was then selected as recipient of the Fulbright scholarship and enrolled into the graduate school of the University of Pittsburgh in 1963. It was there that he met Professor George A. Jeffrey, the undisputed authority on crystallography in the world. Together, they began to pursue full-scale research on X-ray crystalline structures. After acquiring a Ph.D. degree in 1966, he joined the lab of Professor Alexander Rich of MIT as a post-doctoral researcher. Professor Rich pursued joint research with Linus Pauling, Polling, James Watson and Frances Crick, etc., and became a globally renowned RNA researcher, and a member of the RNA Tie Club. This work provided him the opportunity to pioneer research on the structure of tDNA.
One of his most important achievements was the discovery of the 3-dimensional structure of tDNA (tRNA), the molecule that transports amino acid, for the first time. Structural research on tDNA was one of the hottest research issues in the international science sector in the 1960s and 1970s. The Rich group at MIT, the Jacques Fresco group at Princeton of the USA, and Aaron Klug group in the UK heatedly engaged in competition to secure primacy in such research. Sung-Hou Kim was the lead author for a major research thesis, and then a revised and supplemented research thesis, that were published in the globally renowned scientific journal, Science, in 1973 and 1974, respectively. This research brought a deeper understanding of the entire processes by which the genetic information contained in the DNA is expressed as protein through the RNA. Kim’s discovery of the tDNA structure was a remarkable scientific accomplishment, so much so that it was included in key biology textbooks throughout the world.
He then investigated the 3-dimensional structure of ras, one of important proteins that induce cancer, in 1988. That research revealed the cause of the manifestation of cancer by means of this protein. He made a contribution in the pioneering in a new field of research now referred to as cancer biophysiography when he investigated the 3-dimensional structure of cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) protein involved in the cell-cycle in 1993. In addition, he shortened the time taken, and increased the development probability, by introducing the concept of scaffold (fragment)-based drug discovery into R&D for new drugs. Using this concept, he jointly established Plexxikon with Joseph Schlesinger of Yale University in 2001 and thus achieved breakthroughs in the development of anti-skin cancer drug. This concept also contributed towards the development of anti-cancer drugs for the treatment of breast cancer and the development of oligoleukocytosis targeted at cancer-related proteins.
His other achievement was that he led research on structural proteomics by leading the Berkeley Structural Genomics Center in 2000. He investigated the structure of more than 500 proteins and discovered that the structure of protein can be made through a combination of only a limited number of structural units, thereby introducing new concept for protein structure. Furthermore, after analyzed the genome data of 9,000 Caucasians in the USA using artificial intelligence and genome decryption technology, he identified the causes for the manifestation of 20 key cancers by dividing them according to hereditary and acquired causes. Through this research, he made possible the understanding of the probability of manifestation for certain cancers and suggested preventive measures to be taken, etc. for each individual through genome decryption.
He published a total of 355 research theses including 18 that were published in Science, 13 in Nature, and 37 in PNAS, and he acquired 15 international patents. He provided technological advice to more than 20 bio and pharmaceutical companies in Korea and the USA, starting with LG Biotech in 1985, and he made contributions towards the expansion of Korea companies into the US market. He was selected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, and he received awards including Ho-Am Prize of Korea, Princess Takamatsu Award of Japan, and Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award of USA, etc.
Professor Sung-Hou Kim is one of undisputed authorities in biophysiography, proteomics, and genomics in the world. He has made immense scientific contributions in expanding the horizons of biomedical research (Computational Genomics) through linkage between diversified fields of medical bioscience and informatics.