Postdoctoral Alumni - SangSeong Kim



SangSeong Kim
Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy
Hanyang University

In 2005 SangSeong Kim contacted Stowers Associate Investigator Ron Yu about possibly doing a postdoc with him. At that time, Kim, who was finishing his PhD in neuroscience at Seoul National University had never heard of the Stowers. But attracted by Yu’s research in the olfactory system, Kim took the plunge and traveled to the US for the first time.

Once he got to Kansas City, he liked what he saw.  “Ron’s lab lacked for nothing required to do the work,” says Kim, marveling at Stowers superior facilities. “Plus, Kansas City was so peaceful compared to Seoul.”

Kim spent the next 6 years in the Yu lab working on how ion channels transduce intracellular signals in response to pheromones, small molecule olfactory cues that stimulate sexual or reproductive behaviors.  “Ron emphasized the importance of carefully designing an experiment before starting it and paying attention to details related to data generation,” says Kim.

That attention paid off: in the Yu lab Kim discovered that, in addition to the well-characterized TRPC2 channel, potassium and chloride channels not previously associated with pheromone responses mediate olfactory signaling. Those efforts earned Kim 5 publications in the Yu lab, among them, first author papers in Nature Communications in 2011 and Nature Neuroscience in 2012.

At Stowers, however, Kim was hardly an all-work-and-no-play kind of guy. “We worked hard and played hard,” he says reeling off a list of activities from volleyball to camping to golfing that kept him occupied while his samples were incubating. He still misses clubbing in Kansas City Power and Light District entertainment hub, monthly First Fridays events in the Kansas City Arts District, and what was apparently quite a memorable poolside party named ‘U’r not in Kansas anymore’.

Kim returned to South Korea as an assistant professor at Hanyang University near Seoul in 2012. He now swims in “tons of paperwork” as he establishes a lab in the newly launched Department of Pharmacy. There, Kim is conducting his own research exploring the correlation between loss of the sense of smell (a condition called anosmia) and Parkinson’s Disease.