I received a PhD in Pharmacology from Korea then trained as a visiting Fellow at The Laboratory of Cellular Carcinogenesis and Tumor Promotion (LCCTP) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. I joined the laboratory of Dr. John Letterio at Case Western Reserve University as a research associate in 2006.
My research has focused on investigating therapeutic agents in chronic inflammation and inflammation-induced cancer and identifying the molecular mechanisms of these therapies. With Dr. Letterio, I have contributed to the development of a class of small molecules known as the triterpenoids, demonstrating their ability to suppress the development of inflammatory disorders in preclinical models of colitis associated colon cancer (CAC). I have led an effort that has revealed how oral administration of the synthetic triterpenoid CDDO-Me improves survival and suppresses tumorigenesis in spontaneous or chemically-induced CAC. Notably, we have also identified 15-PGDH as a novel molecular target of triterpenoids. My most recent studies have demonstrated that dietary celastrol, a natural triterpenoid isolated from the herb Tripterygium wilfordii (also known as the “thunder god vine”), significantly suppresses the progression of inflammation and cancer in mouse models for CAC.