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Sun Wook Hwang, Ph.D
Sensory Neuroscience Lab
Graduate School of Medicine
Korea University College of Medicine
Tel : 82-31-412-6724
FAX : 82-31-412-6718
e-mail : sunhwang@korea.ac.kr
Professor Sun Wook Hwang started his job in Korea University in March 2005. His lab is composed of two graduate students and two technicians, and he keeps actively recruiting new crews. He just started to manage two domestic research funds (from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology) and is trying to contribute to progress in the study on molecular mechanism of touch sensation and development of novel pain therapeutics.
Peripheral touch mechanism in vertebrates has been one of the hot topics in the sensory neuroscience. Most of breakthroughs in finding touch receptors were attained within a recent decade and those were together with the completion of the human genome project. Endeavors in pharmacology also made great contribution to extending our knowledge of the receptor molecules. Six thermosensor molecules are found in a gene family of the transient receptor potential ion channel. Those molecules are also deeply involved in chemical/pain sensation under inflammation. Natural ligands and endogenous ligands for the thermosensors are being unveiled. Now Hwang is trying to construct a systemic view in thermal sensation parallel with microscopic approach in the receptor function using his electrophysiological and pharmacological tools. Hwang is also making challenges to find a receptor for mechanical stimuli. Sensory mechanism is closely related to maintaining body homeostasis and protection from harmful environments. Synthetic chemicals affecting the touch receptor function can improve quality of our lives as those are possibly able to control diseases associated with the abnormal behavior of the receptors (inflammatory pain, discogenic pain, pyrexia etc). In this respect Hwang is building tight scientific partnership with domestic and international clinical investigators, chemists, and biologists.
Hwang studied pharmacy in his undergraduate life at Seoul National University and earned his Ph.D. at Department of Pharmacology of the same university. He has spent 3 years in the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego as a postdoctoral research associate. Recently he is ratified as one of the members of ‘Leading Health Professionals of the World 2006’ nominated by International Biographical Centre (IBC, Cambridge, UK), one of the most famous publishers of biographical dictionary.