KIM Jin-Soo is an entrepreneur and chemist-turned-biologist. He graduated from Seoul National University in 1987 majoring in chemistry. He then earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Seoul National University in 1989, and later a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994. After postdoctoral training at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he returned to Seoul in 1997 to serve as Principal Investigator at Samsung Biomedical Research Institute. He co-founded the biotechnology company ToolGen, Inc., focused on zinc finger technology in 1999, and served as CEO and CSO for the subsequent 6 years. He joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at Seoul National University in 2005. He now serves as Director of Center for Genome Engineering at the Institute for Basic Science. He has published over 60 articles and filed 20 patent applications, mostly in the field of gene regulation and genome editing. He has been a member of Faculty of 1000 since May 2013.
We focus on developing programmable nucleases that enable genome editing in plants, animals, and cultured cells, including human pluripotent stem cells. These nucleases cleave chromosomal DNA in a targeted manner, producing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), whose repair via endogenous mechanisms gives rise to targeted genome modification in cells and whole organisms. For the last ten years or so, we have developed three different types of programmable nucleases, namely, zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcriptional activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and RNA-guided engineered nucleases (RGENs) derived from the type II CRISPR/Cas prokaryotic adaptive immune system. These nucleases are now used widely in almost every discipline in biology, biotechnology, and molecular medicine. We have opened websites to help researchers choose unique RGEN target sites suitable for gene disruption (www.rgenome.net) and TALEN sites in 18,740 protein-coding genes and 274 miRNA sequences in the human genome (www.talenlibrary.net).
We will continue our efforts to improve and expand genome editing technologies. In addition, we plan to use these powerful tools to discover new genes associated with various disease phenotypes, such as viral replication and cancer, and to develop novel methods of gene and cell therapy for the treatment of both acquired and genetic diseases. We also focus on developing value-added crops and animals, such as genome-engineered pigs appropriate for organ transplantation.