Doo Yeon Kim, PhD

Dr. Doo Yeon Kim has been studying pathogenic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) for more than 15 years. He was born in South Korea, where he obtained his PhD degree (from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea). In 2001, he moved to the United States to continue his studies in Dr. Dora Kovacs’ laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston. In 2009, he was appointed assistant professor of neurology at MGH/Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dr. Kim explores physiological and pathological functions of BACE1 [Beta-secretase 1, also known as beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1] and presenilin/γ-secretase. Both BACE1 and presenilin/γ-secretase are key enzymes that regulate generation of β-amyloid, major pathogenic molecules associated with AD. Recently, Dr. Kim’s laboratory developed a human stem cell culture model of AD by cultivating genetically modified human neural stem cells in a three-dimensional cell culture system. With this system, they were able to recapitulate key pathogenic events of AD pathology, including β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles for the first time. This unique human neural cell culture model can be used for large-scale high-throughput screening for novel therapeutic targets, which has not been feasible in the current AD mouse models. This work has been listed as one of “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2015” by MIT Technology Review. Dr. Kim received The John Douglas French Foundation Fellowship Award and recently, the 2015 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award.

The co-principal investigator, Dr. Clifford J. Woolf, works on pain and the regeneration and degeneration of the nervous system, with a particular focus on neurological disease modeling and drug screening in patient induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-derived neurons. He was born in South Africa, where he earned his MD and PhD degrees. He moved to London in 1979, and became professor of neurobiology at University College London. In 1997, he was recruited by the MGH and HMS to serve as the first Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesiology Research at HMS. In 2007, he was appointed principal faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and in 2010 was named director of the F. M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and also became professor of neurology and neurobiology at HMS. Dr. Woolf is deputy director of the Intellectual Developmental Disability Disorders Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and co-director of the neuroscience program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Over his career Dr. Woolf has received many honors and prizes. Most recently he was awarded the Kerr award from the American Pain Society, a Founders Award from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and became an honorary fellow of the Irish College of Anesthetists (2015). He was a Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in 2014, was awarded the Magnes medal in Israel (2013) and was selected to deliver the FE Bennett Memorial Lecture by the American Neurological Association (2012). He was awarded a Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) at the National Institutes of Health (2011); delivered the Schmidt lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011) and the Bonica Lecture for the International Society of the Study of Pain (2010); was visiting professor at Columbia University (2009); and received the Wall Medal from the Royal College of Anesthetists in the UK (2009). He has founded three companies and holds 17 patents.