Dr. Young J. Kim is the Amy and Barry Baker Chair and Director of Head and Neck Oncology Research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Kim was an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Hospital with the Bloomberg Kimmel Institute of Cancer Immunotherapy, Baltimore, MD. Utilizing both murine models and surgical human tissue, his lab is studying the human tumor microenvironment from an immunologist’s perspective. One focus of his lab is the development of novel cancer vaccines that can be translated with the immune checkpoint inhibitors. His group has introduced the STING agonist as a potent vaccine adjuvant that is currently undergoing a phase I clinical trial. From a mechanistic standpoint, they are studying how STING stimulates the stromal cells to induce a potent adaptive immune response. Another focus in the lab in the study of tumor associated myeloid cells. His lab demonstrated that STAT3 signaling is critical in regulating the T-cell suppression activity of MDSC, and his group is actively studying other functional activities of these targetable cells that can regulate the growth of the tumor.
Dr. Kim received his MD and PhD in molecular pathology from University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, where he studied the role of selectin molecules in migration of human cells through the endothelium under Dr. Ajit Varki. His postdoctoral fellowship was with Dr. Owen Witte at UCLA where he developed non-invasive molecular imaging modalities of endogenous T-cell trafficking into the developing tumor.