Jinkyu Jung, Ph.D.
Dr. Jung is developing novel preclinical models and therapeutic strategies that can be immediately applied for clinical trials in the brain cancer field. His research interests focus on developing newer anti-cancer drug targets and precision medicine models using computational analyses and patient-derived samples.
1) cancer stem cells, 2) malignant gliomas, 3) targeting membrane-bound proteins, 4) anti-cancer drug evaluation, 5) tumor microenvironment, 6) tumor epigenetics
Dr. Jung's research projects are aimed at developing novel preclinical models and therapeutic strategies that can be immediately applied for clinical trials in the brain cancer field. His research interests and insight focus on developing new anti-cancer drug targets and precision medicine models by using computational analyses and patient-derived samples in malignant gliomas. In particular, he focuses on the mechanisms that contribute to chemo-resistance, including tumoral intra/inter-heterogeneity, the tumor microenvironment, cancer stem cells and so on.
Briefly, he found that NIX, a mitochondrial autophagy receptor, was over-expressed in the pseudopalisading cells that envelop the hypoxic-necrotic regions, and that mitochondrial NIX expression was robust in patient-derived glioblastoma tumor tissues and glioblastoma stem cells (GSC). The clinical significance of these findings was validated by a significant association between the expression level and poor outcome for glioblastoma patients. This finding indicated that the NIX-mediated mitophagic pathway may represent a key therapeutic target for solid tumors, including glioblastoma.
His work has contributed some insight on the relationship between metabolic dysregulation and epigenetic modification in tumor cells and how they hijack and utilize this relationship to drive cancer. For example, Dr. Jung discovered that a critical node in methyl donor metabolism, nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), ranked among the most consistently overexpressed metabolism genes in glioblastoma relative to normal brain, suggesting that NNMT is a GSC-specific therapeutic target in glioblastoma by disrupting oncogenic DNA hypomethylation.
More recently, Dr. Jung has been propelling his major works about how dopamine receptor (DRD2) signaling pathways mechanistically link with epigenetic regulation and why the antagonism of DRD2 is beneficial for cancer therapies, including gliomas. In this research project, Dr. Jung leveraged a potential linkage between protein dimerization of a dopamine receptor and histone methylation in specific subtypes of glioblastoma. Underscoring the potential clinical importance of this work, he contributed to a clinical trial in the Neuro-Oncology Branch that is based on the preclinical studies of a DRD2 inhibitor. Overall, Dr. Jung’s work has had a great impact on translating studies from bench-to-bedside in the neuro-oncology field.
Selected Key Publications
- Cancer Res. 79(20): 5218-5232, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
- Clin Cancer Res. 25(7): 2305-2313, 2019. [ Journal Article ]
- JCI Insight. 2(10): e90019, 2017. [ Journal Article ]
Protein phosphatase 2A inhibition enhances radiation sensitivity and reduces tumor growth in chordoma.Neuro Oncol. 20(6): 799-809, 2018. [ Journal Article ]
- Methods Mol Biol. 1516: 361-369, 2016. [ Journal Article ]
Dr. Jung obtained his doctorate (Ph.D.) degree in biological sciences with a focus on viral oncology in 2009 from the Department of Microbiology, Pusan National University, South Korea. He then served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the research agency of the Korean military service and at the Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences (KIRAMS) from 2009 to 2011. He continued his academic career in brain cancer studies as a Research Associate at the Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Virginia (2011-2015) and as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation (2015-2016). In May 2016, he joined Dr. Mark Gilbert's group in the Neuro-Oncology Branch (NOB) as a Research Fellow. In 2019, Dr. Jung was promoted to the position of Staff Scientist within the NOB.