Helen Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Areas of focus: Proteomics of Dementia, Protein Oxidation, Mass Spectrometry
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My lab is interested in elucidating the molecular basis of the neuroprotective actions of dietary "anti-oxidants," specifically the polyphenols enriched in fruit extracts (grapes, blueberry, cranberry) in models of aging brain, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease. A major analytic approach is the application and development of proteomics and mass spectrometry tools in combination with conventional biochemical protocols to elucidate structure-function relationships of protein modifications especially oxidative modifications, that are linked with disease. Recent studies have taken us in the direction of studying actions of dietary anti-oxidants specifically on "new" neurons in the mammalian brain generated by neurogenesis, to determine how and to what extent these are targeted by neuroprotective dietary phytochemicals.
Implementing these studies involves 2D gel and other approaches that separate intact (undigested) proteins in biological proteomes, mass spectrometry, enzyme and other functional assays that are molecule specific. The major proteins of interest are the microtubule proteins, amyloid-beta, presenilin-1 and the brain isoform of creatine kinase. While the brain is our principal organ of interest, we are also applying similar proteomic approaches to determine the basis of the anti-cancer activity of the same polyphenols in animal models of breast cancer.
Dr. Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, with joint appointments in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Neurobiology, and Genetics. In addition, she co-directs the Targeted Metabolics and Proteomics Laboratory. Her lab is located on the 4th floor, McCallum Building, 1918 University Blvd. Dr. Kim received her B.S. degree from the University of Mary Washington in 1970. She received her M.F.S. degree from Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences in 1972. Dr. Kim moved to Charlottesville, VA and attended the University of Virginia where she received her Ph.D. in 1983 and completed her postdoctoral training in 1985. She joined the UAB faculty as a Visiting Scientist in 1995.