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Discovering ways to prevent damage to the protective sheath of nerve fibers

Dr. Haesun Kim showed she was serious about her research when she garnered the Rutgers University Busch Biomedical Faculty Research Award in 2004, the year she first joined Rutgers-Newark’s faculty. The award enabled Kim to continue her research on the formation and destruction of a cellular structure called myelin.

Myelin is a fatty substance that enwraps and insulates axons (or nerve fibers) within the nervous system. Myelin supports neural survival and allows the nerve’s electrical signal to travel faster. Destruction of the myelin is common to many disorders like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, cancers of the nervous system, and certain learning disabilities. Kim’s research seeks to understand what causes the breakdown of the myelin and discover ways to prevent damage to this protective sheath and repair injured cells.

In addition to the Rutgers University Busch Biomedical Faculty Research Award, Kim’s research has been supported by grants from the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Injury, the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research and the National institute of Heath. The results of her work have been published in numerous journals, including Journal of Neuroscience, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience and Nature Neuroscience.

Kim received her master’s degree in biology from the University of Toledo and her doctoral degree in cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy from the University of Cincinnati. She performed her post-doctoral work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.