Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Sangwon F. Kim, PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology in Psychiatry 
Department of Psychiatry Faculty Bio

Sangwon Kim, PhD joined the Department of Psychiatry in April 2008 as an Assistant Professor. He attended Iowa State University, where he received his BS in Biophysics, and obtained his PhD in Experimental Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He worked for 5 years as a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Solomon H. Snyder at Johns Hopkins University.

Sangwon Kim’s laboratory is, in general, interested in cellular signaling cascades in the brain but particularly, in two areas right now.

  1. Oxidative stress-mediated neurodegeneration: He has identified a cascade whereby glutamate-NMDA receptor activation via NO and Dexras1, a novel small GTP binding protein, physiologically stimulates DMT1, the major iron importer. He is investigating the role of Dexras1 in brain iron trafficking and iron homeostasis on the cellular and systemic levels in relation to neurodegeneration.
  2. Nutrient sensing mechanism: More recently, he addressed the major weight gain problem, elicited by atypical antipsychotic drugs (e.g. clozapine or olanzapine-Zyprexa) for schizophrenia. He showed that the weight gain is caused by selective activation of hypothalamic AMPK-activated kinase via histamine H1 receptors. Deletion of histamine H1 receptors abolishes drug-mediated activation of hypothalamic AMPK. He continues to investigate the nutrient sensing and appetite control (obesity) mechanism in hypothalamus.

Dr. Kim utilizes tissue culture, primary neuronal cell culture, and animal models with molecular and cellular techniques to address these issues.

Areas of Investigation

  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Molecular and Cellular Neuropathology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Schizophrenia
  • Signal Transduction

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