Suwon Kim, PhD

Associate Professor, Basic Medical Sciences
Associate Professor, Cancer Biology - GIDP
Associate Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(602) 343-8762
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Kim is an Associate Professor in the Cancer Cell Biology Division at TGen. She was jointly recruited to Phoenix by TGen and University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. She teaches the 1st and 2nd year medical students the topics in Cancer and Oncology at the College of Medicine. Her research laboratory is located in the Cancer and Cell Biology Division at TGen.

Dr. Kim's research focuses on the characterization of genes involved in the emergence of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the single most common cancer in women. Although early detection followed by resection of tumors and tamoxifen treatment for estrogen receptor positive tumor patients have improved the cure frequency, the survival rate sharply declines for patients who have recurring tumors within 5 years of initial treatment. By deciphering oncogenes and tumor suppressors involved in the genesis and progression of breast cancer, better therapies can be developed that target specific molecular lesions associated with individual tumors.

Dr. Kim has identified several novel candidate tumor suppressor genes that can antagonize a tumor's behavior in tissue culture. One of her main projects, funded by National Cancer Institute, is to characterize one of the genes that she identified named ING4. She has shown that the ING4 gene is deleted in 10-20% human breast cancer, suggesting its role as a tumor suppressor. To better characterize the tumor suppressor function of ING4 in breast cancer, she utilizes mice as a model organism. She has shown that ING4 suppresses mammary hyperplasia that resembles an early lesion in human breast cancer. Currently, her lab is investigating the molecular mechanisms of ING4 using state-of-the-art technology including gene expression array profiling, 2-hybrid screen, and chromatin IP array study (ChIP on chip).

Her lab is also developing ING4 and other genes as biomarkers and prognostic markers for breast cancer, using high-throughput assays such as Tumor Tissue Microarrays (TMAs).

One of her long-term goals is to develop better therapies against cancer, targeting specific pathways involving tumor suppressors. She plans to utilize the mouse models generated in her studies to directly test potential therapeutics.

Dr. Kim obtained her undergraduate degree from University of California Berkeley and her PhD from Yale University School of Medicine. She developed her research program as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. J. Michael Bishop at University of California San Francisco. Dr. Kim joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix in 2007.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Biology
Member Status: 
Associate Research Member
Research Focus: 

Research Interests

Cancer; Diseases of development and aging; Developmental, cell and molecular biology; Gene environment interactions and epigenetics; Signaling and steroid biology

Research Summary

We investigate tumor suppressor (TS) genes in cancer and how TS deficiencies lead to tumor formation and progression. We have characterized Inhibitor of Growth 4 (ING4) TS in breast cancer, of which deficiency is correlated with metastatic and therapy-resistant tumors. We have defined ING4 as a transcriptional regulator that plays a critical role in tumor-immune modulation and hormone response. Ongoing studies include the molecular mechanism of ING4 and TSs in neuroblastoma and lung cancer.
Selected Publications: 
  1. Byron SA, Min E, Thal TS, Tapia C, Hostetter G, Watanabe A, Azorsa D, Little TH, and Kim S.  (2012) Attenuation of NF-kappa B by the ING4 tumor suppressor in breast cancer. PLoS One 7(10):e46823.
  2. Tapia C, Zlobec I, Schneider S, Kilic E, Guth U, Bubendorf L, and Kim S. (2011) Deletion of the ING4 tumor suppressor gene is prevalent in HER2-positive breast cancer. Human Pathology 42(7): 983-90.
  3. Kim, S., Welm, A.L., and Bishop, J.M. (2010).  A dominant mutant allele of the ING4 tumor suppressor found in human cancer cells exacerbates MYC-initiated mouse mammary tumorigenesis. Cancer Res 70:5155-5162
  4. Kim, S. (2005). HuntING4 New Tumor Suppressors. Cell Cycle 4(4):516-7.
  5. Welm, A.L., Kim, S., Welm, B.E., and Bishop, J.M. (2005). MET and MYC cooperate in mammary tumorigenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102(12):4324-9.

Academic Information

Post Doctoral: 
Cancer Biology, University of California, San Francisco
Doctorate: 
Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Master's Degree: 
Phil. Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Undergraduate School: 
BA, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA