Research

  • Pan-Jun Kim’s group focuses on the study of living systems from both physical and biological viewpoints. Recent technologies have generated enormous amount of biological data at various scales. Computational methodologies developed in physics, mathematics, and engineering enable analyses of such data, allowing scientists to gain insights that will bring leaps of fundamental understanding of complex biological processes. We are developing a quantitative framework for unraveling collective activities of living systems, aided by mechanistic modeling and statistical data analysis. Our group is housed in the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP).
  • Systems biology of the human microbiome
  • Microbial communities populate almost every part of the planet, ranging from hot springs to deep oceans, soil environments, and human bodies. Our human body harbors numerous microbial cells. Advances in sequencing technologies and metagenomics have revealed that our resident microbial community exerts an important influence on many aspects of human physiology in health and disease. Microbes interact with each other and with the host, and these myriad interactions are shaping our complex microbial ecosystem. Considering those interactions and the resulting network structure, we are taking a mechanistic, system-level approach to account for the microbial community's dynamics in relation to host health and disease.
  • Large-scale study of biomolecular networks
  • In a cell or organism, biological processes are the interplay of many molecular species, such as DNA, RNA, proteins, and small molecules. Towards the goal of understanding, predicting, and manipulating complex biological processes, we study the underlying biomolecular networks and their emergent dynamics, with an emphasis on functional and phenotypic relevance. For example, we study molecular networks of circadian clocks, which generate biological rhythms with ~24 h periodicity in a wide range of living creatures. Circadian clocks modulate almost every aspect of daily activities of both plants and animals, and the disruption of circadian rhythms is connected to many pathological problems, including metabolic disorders and cancer in animals.
  • Interdisciplinary applications
  • We welcome insights and tools from diverse disciplines as invaluable assets for our biological research. Likewise, insights and tools from biological research can inspire the studies on seemingly disparate subjects, such as food, society, and technology evolution. Truly, everything is connected to everything else.