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Student Profile in Microtubule Catastrophe

Tae Kim

Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program

Mentor: Luke Rice, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Degree: Physics and Chemistry
Undergraduate Institution: Swarthmore College
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.

Awards/Fellowships: HHMI Interdisciplinary Science Fellowship, The Ellen V. Weissman Scholarship, The William C. Elmore Prize, National Institutes of Health (NIH) T32 Training Grant

Tae H. Kim

How did you become interested in science and/or research?

I was always interested in medicine and human physiology. It was not until college when I realized that I had passion for physical sciences and research. I still maintained my interest in medicine, so I decided to pursue a career path that would allow me to do both.

Please describe your research.

Intracellular transport, kinesin motor proteins transport molecules moving across microtubules
Intracellular transport, kinesin motor proteins transport molecules moving across microtubules.

Microtubules are dynamic cytoskeleton that play an important role in various cellular processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. The goal of my project is to understand the molecular mechanism of microtubule catastrophe, the switching from growing to shrinking phase of dynamic microtubules. I study microtubule catastrophe using a combination of computational and experimental approaches, including TIRF and DIC microscopy. A better fundamental understanding of microtubule dynamics could lead to development of more selective cancer drugs.

Why did you choose UT Southwestern?

I choose to come to UTSW not only because I wanted to go to a top-tier medical school, but also top-tier graduate program. UTSW is one of precious few programs in the country that supports students to combine their passion for molecular biophysics and medicine. Lastly, Dallas is one the more affordable cities compared to other cities with programs that I was considering.

What do you think makes the Molecular Biophysics Program one of the best?

There are many reasons why UTSW’s Molecular Biophysics Program is one of the top graduate programs in the country. But, our enthusiastic and knowledgeable faculty and staff stands out as the top reason for excellence. In our program, through interaction with faculty and students, you will not only gain practical and technical know-how on powerful cutting-edge techniques but also learn how to think like a scientist. Our program is highly interdisciplinary, providing opportunities to learn from and network with highly motivated and intelligent fellow graduate students throughout the entire graduate school, not just the Molecular Biophysics Program.

– Tae KimMolecular Biophysics Graduate Program

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