Home - Dr. Carol Kim
Dr. Carol Kim
Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Director of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Cooperating Associate Professor in the School of Marine Sciences
In a transparent embryo the size of a pinhead grows a model organism with the potential to help solve human health problems. The zebrafish, which develops from a single cell to a complete vertebrate within 24 hours has many biological traits that mimic those of humans. At the University of Maine, basic zebrafish research hopes to unlock the secrets of innate immunity in the ongoing battle against infectious disease. Leading that ground-breaking research is microbiologist Carol Kim, who is studying the biological factors that supplement and prolong the body’s immune response to infection. Understanding how cells respond to infection could one day lead to disease prevention or more effective vaccines in humans and in other mammals and in fish species. A focus of Kim’s research is the role of toll-like receptor (TLR) signal pathways that are key to innate immunity. Currently, she is conducting a comparative immunology study to identify unique disease-fighting molecular processes in zebrafish that could provide clues to finding similar defense mechanisms as yet unidentified in humans. In 2003, Kim’s lab had a major breakthrough when it was the first to document the function of a zebrafish gene that produces interferon, an infection-fighting protein known for its ability to inhibit the growth of virus. Among Kim’s many research collaborations is work with the Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Research Development Program to develop a zebrafish model for studying the respiratory disease. The goal is to determine some of the factors of the innate immunity response that contribute to the detrimental inflammation in cystic fibrosis.