Conquering immune disorders
IBS Academy of Immunology and Microbiology
Room 286, POSTECH Biotech Center, POSTECH,
77, Cheongam-ro, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Division of research services
Head of Division
Chae Suhn Kee
Understanding immune homeostatic mechanisms between commensal microbes and host immune system
The immune system is essential to protect the host from invasion by pathogenic microbes and outgrowth of cancerous host cells. It is both powerful and versatile, capable of mobilizing a customized potent response to the vast array of pathogens and tumors. Because of its strength, the activated immune response is tightly regulated and is, upon elimination of the invaders, rapidly extinguished to prevent collateral tissue damage. The immune system thereafter “remembers” the invaders, and is capable of mounting a stronger and quicker response to subsequent invasions by the same pathogen or cancer.
Effective immunity requires a complex network of interactions between multiple types of cells. The primary lymphoid tissues generate immune cells, whose activation is initiated in the secondary lymphoid tissues. Immune cells are also distributed throughout the non-lymphoid tissues and are particularly prominent in the mucosal tissues that are exposed to the environment. Here, these immune cells perform a highly specialized function by providing protection from environmental pathogens, while maintaining operational tolerance to benign antigens and to the massive numbers of commensal microbes that co-exist peacefully with the host.
While many key mechanisms that regulate the immune system have been deciphered, many more have yet to be discovered. The goal of Academy of Immunology and Microbiology (AIM) is to discover several of these unknown fundamental mechanisms. Particular focus will be placed on elucidating the mechanisms by which various populations of lymphocytes develop and function, how these cells are activated and regulated in order to protect the host without causing collateral tissue damage, and how these cells co-exist peacefully with the commensal microbes while conferring protective immunity against pathogenic microbes. These discoveries should reveal novel approaches to enhance immunity against pathogens and cancer and to prevent or ameliorate chronic immune inflammatory diseases, such as autoimmunity, allergies, atherosclerosis and metabolic diseases.
|Korean/ International||39(Korean), 9(International)|
As of March. 2017
Director Charles D. SURH received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego and earned his Ph.D. in immunology from the University of California, Davis. He completed a postdoctoral program and served as senior researcher, assistant professor, and full professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). After being selected as the director of AIM in 2012, he returned to Korea and was also appointed as a professor of POSTECH.
Director SURH is a world leading immunologist who presented over 120 papers from 1984. When he was at TSRI, he published papers demonstrating the entire process from birth to death of T cells in world-renowned journals, such as Nature and Science. In particular, he discovered for the first time that only 1% of T cells developed in the thymus fight external invaders. With such outstanding achievements, he was honored with the Ho-Am Prize in Medicine in 2007 and was selected as 100 Distinguished minds who will shine Korea in 2010.
After returning to Korea, he focused on research to identify the interaction mechanism between the immune system and symbiotic microorganisms. His studies demonstrating how food induces immunologic unresponsiveness and competition for survival among immune cells maintains immune balance were published in Science (February 2017) and Immunity (July 2017), respectively. He was diagnosed with cancer in early 2015 but his illness could not stop him from conducting research. He continued his research while receiving treatment for cancer.