Upstate MD/PhD student wins $3,000 research fellowship

SUNY Upstate MD/PhD student Hans Kim

MD/PhD student Hans Kim, left, won a $3,000 fellowship from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging for his research on lupus in the lab of Andras Perl, MD PhD, right. "It is a privilege to be a part of Upstate's MD/PhD program," Hans said. "I hope to take advantage of all the great opportunities our program and school offer, to get the most out of my training. Perhaps this is what drives me every day in class and in the lab to do my best. It would be such a waste not to do so." Photo by Debbie Rexine.

Hans Kim, a student in Upstate’s MD/PhD program, has been awarded a $3,000 research fellowship from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

Hans is conducting research on the autoimmune disorder lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE) in the laboratory of Andras Perl, MD PhD, professor of Medicine, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Microbiology & Immunology.

The SNMMI fellowship is the third monetary award Hans has received since starting in the Upstate MD/PhD program last June.  He received a 2012 Waters Academic Grant (an institutional award) and a 2012 American College of Rheumatology research preceptorship.

The SNMMI society awarded Hans a Bradley-Alavi Student Fellowship to support his lupus research using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy in Dr. Perl’s lab. Perl is division chief of Rheumatology at Upstate and co-director of the MD/PhD program. (Check out the MD/PhD program’s new website.)

Hans’ research proposal – “Metabolic Flux Profiling for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) T-Cells Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy” – strives to understand “the complex pathogenesis of SLE and to develop novel therapeutic biomarkers and to identify drug targets for SLE treatment.”

Hans said NMR spectroscopy is a versatile, proven non-invasive method in the emerging field of metabolomics (the study of small compounds within cells that are acted upon by enzymes). Eventually, NMR could lead to the discovery of new metabolic markers, therapeutic targets and a more thorough understanding of diseases.

“Dr. Perl’s lab has very well-established protocols to obtain T-cells from healthy controls and SLE patients,” Hans said. “There are also several ongoing clinical trials with regard to SLE. The lab is an ideal place for me to conduct metabolomic studies to understand SLE.”

Lupus is one of the most complex autoimmune diseases, Hans said.

“My goal is to use metabolomics to shed light on the disease mechanisms of SLE and to identify potential diagnostic markers to aid in early detection of SLE using NMR,” he said.

SUNY Upstate MD/PhD students

First-year students in Upstate's MD/PhD program, from left, Dan Tylee, Hans Kim and Rebecca Sager. Twenty-two students are in the program, training to be physician scientists. "I learn a lot from my fellow MD/PhD students," Hans said. "We have such a motivated, talented, hard-working group that there is not a day that goes by that I am not inspired by them."


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