Explore UAB

Dr. Jeonga KimIn a new series, the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center (UCDC), a leader in the field of diabetes research, will highlight its dynamic faculty and trainees.

The UCDC has members from across several schools and departments at UAB. Diabetes research capabilities are made stronger by the diverse research focuses and innovations that members bring to the table. To better understand these research capabilities and discoveries, we will spotlight UCDC researchers throughout the year.

This month, we are spotlighting Jeonga Kim, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and a scientist in the UCDC.

Tell us a little bit about you and your role at the UCDC.

"I am an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, and have been a member of the UCDC since 2010. I have served as an organizer for the UAB diabetes plenary lecture series, sponsored by the UCDC and the UAB Diabetes Research Center (DRC, an NIH-supported center). We invite world-class scientists from the US, as well as internationally, which then provides UAB scientists with opportunities to meet with them individually. Trainees also meet with the speakers and learn about their scientific careers and development experiences.

I am also a member of the Young Diabetes Principal Investigators (YDPI). The YDPI promotes collaborations between peers, scientific activities within the UCDC, building up the infrastructure of the UCDC, and sharing innovative technologies, and ideas."

What first got you interested in diabetes research?

"My Ph.D. training was in molecular biology, especially in the area of transcriptional regulation. After I received my Ph.D. degree, I worked on the transcriptional regulation of phospho-enol pyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK), a rate-limiting enzyme in gluconeogenesis – this was under the supervision of Patrick Quinn at Pennsylvania State University, School of Medicine in Hershey PA. This trajectory directed my interests towards diabetes research.

I was introduced to cardiovascular research areas after post-doctoral training, which are closely related to diabetes research. My current research focuses on the roles of vascular endothelial cells in normal physiology, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes."

Tell us a little bit about your own research.

"My current research is focused on three major areas. First, investigating the role of vascular endothelial cells in obesity and metabolism. Second, investigating the role of vascular endothelial cells in vascular dementia. Third, developing novel pharmacological treatments and bioengineered nanomaterials to improve metabolic and cardiovascular functions.

These research activities involve the devoted effort of lab staff and multi-disciplinary collaborations with faculty members from both inside and outside the UAB. My research projects have been supported by the NIH, the ADA and the AHA, and I have published more than 60 papers throughout my career. "

What does supporting the UCDC and its mission mean to you?

"The UCDC and its mission support UAB diabetes researchers, including myself, in various ways, and I actively participate in advocating for the UCDC mission as well. The UCDC facilitates collaborations by introducing faculty members to various interrelated research areas including genetics, free-radical biology, immunology, nutrition, and endocrinology, etc.

The UCDC also contributes to identifying and recruiting faculty members, whose research and profiles fit both the UCDC and UAB's mission. The UCDC also provides opportunities to meet people in the national and international diabetes research community by arranging a UAB Reception at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. Furthermore, I am one of the awardees of the pilot and feasibility grant sponsored by the UCDC. The funding was extremely helpful in generating preliminary data for extramural grant applications and publications. "

Tell us about what you enjoy outside of the lab.

"My long-term interest is in listening to classical music – the most recent music piece that I have fallen in love with is Gustav Mahler’s symphonies. It’s especially great during weekends and for focusing on writing grant applications. I also enjoy visiting galleries that have paintings by Van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Korean artists, Kim Whanki and Park Soo Keun."