Spotlight on Scientists: Dr, Jaehan Kim of the Mills Laboratory


Dr. Jaehan Kim works in the Mills Lab and his wife, Dr. An, works in the Lebrilla Lab, both of which are affiliated with the Foods For Health Institute.  Both senior scientists frequently collaborate on a range of subjects, including projects on cancer biomarker development (ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer), membrane glycan, or complex sugar, analysis in human embryonic stem cells, glycan disease marker analysis, the development and evaluation of new mass spectrometry platforms, glycan analysis in human and monkey gastrointestinal tracts, the impacts of a bacterium, H. pylori, that can cause ulcers and cancer in humans, glycan profiles of saliva and tear samples from Ocular rosacea patients, as well as profiling of oligosaccharide, or free complex sugars, in primate milks, to name a few.

Clearly, the collaborative relationship between the Mills and the Lebrilla Labs is highly productive and spans a number of important fields of research thanks in part to Dr. Kim and Dr. An’s successful working relationship. Dr. An’s work in the Lebrilla lab enables Dr. Kim to analyze the proteomics, or total protein composition, of bacterial cell surfaces, which has numerous implications for how bacteria interact with their human host cells. As senior staff scientists in each of their respective labs, Drs. Kim and An jointly collect, analyze, interpret, and publish data in a complementary collaborative effort. Dr. Kim typically prepares the samples after he has conducted a number of cell-based or clinical experiments, and Dr. An contributes the mass spectrometry-based methods development and analytical results. Afterward, they discuss the biological implications of the results, each offering their unique perspective. It’s match made in glycomic heaven.

For a recent project, Dr. Kim analyzed whole-cell proteomics of bifidobacteria grown on different carbon sources including human milk oligosaccharides.  “There are more than 2000 genes in the bacterial genome; I try to find what genes are really expressed under specific conditions, and what is the implication of protein expression within the whole bacterial system,” says Dr. Kim. He generates the data by quantitative high-throughput analysis of the whole cell proteome of the bacteria, meaning that the entire set of proteins expressed in a cell is measured and quantified simultaneously using proteomics technology. Then Dr. Kim uses systems biology approaches, or special data analysis techniques geared for large and complex data sets, to analyze the data.  Using this approach Dr. Kim recently contributed to a paper in the prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Turroni, F., F. Bottacini, E. Foroni, I. Mulder, J.-H. Kim, A. Zomer, B. S. Garcia, A. Bidossi, A. Ferrarini, V. Giubellini, M. Delledonne, B. Henrissat, P. Coutinho, M. Oggioni, D. Mills, A. Margolles, D. Kelly, D. v. Sinderen, and M. Ventura. Genome analysis of Bifidobacterium bifidum 317B reveals metabolic pathways for host-derived glycan foraging. PNAS Early Edition). For more information on Dr. Kim’s work and his biosketch please check out the Mills Lab website.

Drs. Kim and An look forward to bright careers.  While they do not know yet where the next steps will take them their collaboration, both scientific and personal, will surely bear fruit.