Research: Jenny Kim Laboratory at UCLA

Our primary goal is to gain insight into the mechanisms of immune response in common skin conditions. We want to provide knowledge and tools for the development of novel skin therapeutics to make a difference for patients suffering from skin disorders. Our lab has the unique focus on bringing scientific research from the bench to the bedside, working extensively with collaborators at UCLA, around the country and abroad.

Currently, our main project is acne vulgaris, an extremely common skin disease that affects most people at some point in their lifetimes. In the United States, more than 50 million people suffer from this condition. The disease is important because it occurs frequently and profoundly affects patients’ self-esteem.

Our key achievements in this project include the following:

  • Our lab was the first to demonstrate that Propionibacterium acnes, bacteria that causes acne, induces inflammation via a toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 dependent mechanism.
  • We have identified and patented several novel molecules, including a naturally occurring granulysin peptide for treating acne and other skin infections. Granulysin is an antimicrobial peptide found in human T and NK cells.
  • We demonstrated that a short synthetic granulysin peptide can kill P. acnes.
  • We found that the graunlysin peptide is also anti-inflammatory, thus potentially therapeutic.

At this stage, we have set new targets for our research focus:

  • We are focusing on identifying other host defense mechanisms including other antimicrobial peptides.
  • We are developing better techniques for delivery of novel compounds.
  • We have identified a unique chitosan-based nanoparticle which has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • We have found that these nanoparticles effectively encapsulate benzoyl peroxide, one of the most common acne drugs, and demonstrate superior therapeutic potential.
  • We are working with other scientists on campus to identify other strategies for delivery of skin therapeutics.
  • We are studying the use of Vault nanocapsules, developed in Dr. Leonard Rome’s lab at UCLA, which allow the delivery and production of multiple copies of therapeutic peptides, creating a more effective treatment.

Our major affiliations are:

  • UCLA Department of Medicine/Division of Dermatology
  • UCLA California Nanosystem Institute (CNSI)
  • UCLA Dermatology Center where pilot clinical studies can be performed

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about our work. The following opportunities are open in our lab.

Postdoctoral Fellows at Jenny Kim Laboratory

We welcome applications from individuals with MD, PhD or equivalent training who are seriously pursuing a career in science. We are especially looking for applicants with a strong background in immunology, skin biology and molecular biology.

Interested applicants should send a CV, a description of their research experience and interests and contact information for references. The possibility of applying for postdoctoral fellowships through national and international agencies is highly valued.

Medical Students at Jenny Kim Laboratory

We welcome highly motivated and self-driven medical students interested in pursuing a career as a physician scientist. Interested students should contact us to inquire about unique research opportunities.

Undergraduates at Jenny Kim Laboratory

We have the opportunity to accommodate enthusiastic and dedicated undergraduate students on our research team. We expect serious effort and a long-term commitment, and, in return, we will provide the opportunity to participate in an active research project in the lab.