CPI Academy Speaker Johnny Kim

Johnny Kim

Johnny is a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung research in Bad Nauheim and Institute of Lung Health at University of Giessen.

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Research interest:

My research aims to understand principles of tissue regeneration and to understand how regenerative cells transform into cancer forming cells when regenerative programs are flawed. Our goal is to find ways to sustain regenerative abilities whilst preventing cancer formation or even to enable regeneration of tissues that normally cannot regenerate like the heart.

Molecular Dynamics of Regeneration and Tumorigenesis.

The Kim lab aims to understand the molecular and multicellular demands that enable tissue maintenance and regeneration and how defects thereof lead to cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. To this end the Kim lab couples advanced genetic engineering with systems biological pipelines to resolve multicellular and molecular dynamics of cellular transformation.

Specifically, we develop sophisticated genetic models that allow conditional and reversible expression of cancer-inducing oncogenes and simultaneous visible exploitation of cell fates via genetic fluorescent lineage tracing in vivo. These models enable to isolate previously healthy cancer cells of origin such as regenerative stem cells, transformed descendants and surrounding cells within the healthy tissue in which tumors develop as well as the stroma of an established tumor (e.g. immune, mesenchymal and endothelial cells). Essentially, this approach enables to isolate and manipulate defined cell types undergoing transitions from the organism, in purity and at any given time. With these unique models, we aim to elucidate the molecular dynamics that instruct cellular transformation and how surrounding stromal cells of the microenvironment support cell behaviors. Our approach includes functional genomics, epigenomics and spatial transcriptomics, technologies that enable to specifically map and allocate gene expression changes to exactly where and in which cell types they are occurring.