I'm working and also playing with the most beautiful creature in nature, namely fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. I trained as a molecular virologist at POSTECH in Korea working on the relationship between inflammatory response and eukartyotic translational initiation mechanism. During that period, I firstly identified TRAF2 which is very important adapter protein for TNF-alpha signaling interacts with eIF4GI which is key scaffold protein bridging the most of translational initiation factors. Important aspect of this interaction is their context-dependecy. By this interaction, cells can be prepared to be healed from the heat shock stress. I also identified 15d-PGJ2 which had been known to be anti-inflammatory prostaglandin generated by macrophages works through halt translational initiation. 15d-PGJ2 induces SG like heat shock, and interact with eIF4A helicase. This interaction halt translational initiation very specifically. Thus I identified the secret links between anti-inflammatory response and translation initiation in cell metabolism.
After I got PhD degree, I made big jump into very different filed so called 'behavioral neurogenetics' of fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster in Yuh Nung Jan's lab at UCSF. Fly geneticists had been developed wonderful genetic tools to dissect neural circuits. With these fine tools, I dissect male fruit fly's sexual behavior. Genetic networks and neural circuits that govern specific behavior is my area of research. After joining Jan lab, I identified male's very interesting behavior so called 'Longer-Mating-Duration'. When male fly is exposed to potential rivals they increase mating duration time compared to socially isolated ones. I identified visual stimuli alone can induce this behavior. I also identified genes that had been known to be associated with circadian rhythm regulate this behaviour.
I am now hired in University of Ottawa and establishing my own lab. Kim lab is seeking for the fundamental mechanisms how specific neural circuits lead to certain behaviours. We use Drosophila melanogaster to answer this question. In short term, the Kim lab will focus on identifying functional neural circuits, genetic components, and sensory modality for these behaviors. In mid term, the Kim lab would expand the behavioral repertoires by establishment of automated quantification system of behavior. Beyond this, the Kim lab will establish automated optogenetic & thermogenetic behavioral manipulation system. With the advantage of strong genetic tools available in fruit fly and establishing behavioral quantification and manipulation systems, the Kim lab in the long term will seek for how neural circuits for complex social behavior function in vivo. Reverse engineering to build up eusociality in fruit fly and genomic editing of eusocial insect such as honey bees/ants using CRISPR/Cas9 is also one of the plans to understand social behaviour.