Yongwon Choi, Ph.D.
421 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Fax: (215) 573-0888
Department of Microbiology, Seoul National University, 1984.
University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL , 1988.
Description of Research ExpertiseDr. Choi's is interested in the molecular analysis of the osteoimmune system. The fields of immunology and bone biology have matured such that key cellular and molecular mechanisms governing the homeostasis of the individual systems are largely understood. However, despite extensive cross-regulation between bone metabolism and the immune system, the mechanisms by which one regulates the other, and the biological implications of such interactions, are poorly understood. We believe that this lack of understanding is due in part to the challenges typically associated with crossing disciplinary boundaries that form naturally during the separate evolutions of fields like modern immunology and bone biology. It is difficult enough for scientists/physicians to keep abreast of advances in multiple fields, but even more so to develop the knowledge base, skills, and materials necessary to address important issues. Therefore, it will be critical to create an environment conducive to the study of intersystem crosstalk. Awareness of intersystem crosstalk will no doubt contribute to our understanding of how both bone and the immune system are regulated in a physiologic context, both at the molecular level and at the level of organ systems. Moreover, this endeavor will lead to better treatments for human diseases involving both systems, including various inflammatory and metabolic bone diseases, as well as tumor-induced bone lysis. Many of these pathologic processes are major targets for therapeutic intervention and are being pursued in the absence of solid scientific understanding of the molecular and cellular processes underpinning these interactions. According to the first-ever report by the U.S. Surgeon General on bone health, by 2020 one in two Americans over age 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis or low bone mass. These secondary health concerns become more prominent as people not only live longer but also expect to remain active in old age. Future preventative treatments for chronic bone-related diseases that are often associated with inflammation and that impact quality of life will require a high degree of specificity, especially if tailored for a segment of the population already suffering from, or vulnerable to, other age-related ailments. We believe these issues place osteoimmunology in a position of unique clinical significance. His recent research focuses on molecular understanding of how dendritic cells and osteoclasts differentiate, and of how T cell tolerance is maintained in vivo.
Potential rotation projections: (1) Study how TRAF6 mediates IL-1 or TLR-mediated NF-kB or MAPK activation (2) Study how TRAF6 controls T cell anergy (3) Study how osteoclast differentiation is regulated