Park Research Overview

Oligodendrocytes (OLs) differentiate to myelinate central nervous system (CNS). CNS myelination by OLs is important not only for saltatory conduction of action potentials but also for trophic support of nerve axons. An improved understanding of how the differentiation of OLs is regulated for CNS myelination should provide a firm basis on which to develop more effective therapeutics for demyelinating diseases.

Our current research efforts are focused on elucidating the transcriptional regulatory network controlling the differentiation of OLs. Over the past decade, application of genome-wide techniques has greatly facilitated the identification of new transcription factors that are important for CNS myelination. However, significant gaps in our knowledge remain regarding how they function at the molecular level. Also, there remain more transcription factors to be identified for the full elucidation of the transcriptional regulatory network. Thus, we are pursuing two different research directions at the moment.

The first direction is to elucidate the functional mechanism of Myrf, a key transcription factor for CNS myelination. Conditional knock-out mice in which Myrf is knocked out in the OL lineage cells completely fail to develop CNS myelin and exhibit severe neurological symptoms, eventually prematurely dying. Recently, we and the Emery laboratory have independently made the surprising discovery that Myrf is generated as an integral membrane protein that is auto-cleaved by its ICA domain into two fragments. This discovery invokes a number of intriguing questions about how Myrf drives the differentiation of OLs for CNS myelination.

The second direction is to identify new transcription factors for CNS myelination. By taking advantage of our computational expertise, we have predicted a number of new transcription factors for OL differentiation. We are currently characterizing them using primary OL cultures. Promising hits will be further analyzed by generating knock-out mice.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Yungki Park

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Dr. Yungki Park is an Assistant Professor of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute and in the Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo.

Jinog Choi

Post Doctoral Research Scientist, HJKRI, Park Lab

  • May 2014 - present: Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, University at Buffalo, NY, USA
  • 2012 - 2014: Post doctoral research, Department of Cell Biology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York, NY
  • 2006 - 2010: PhD in Biochemistry, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea

Dong-Kyeong Kim

Post Doctoral Research Scientist, HJKRI, Park Lab

  • July, 2014: Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, University at Buffalo, NY, USA
  • 2011 - 2014: PhD in Medical Science, Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea
  • 2009 - 2011: Master in Medical Science, Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Fan Chuandong

Research Technician, HJKRI, Park Lab

  • January 2016 - present: Research Technician III focusing on protein post-translational modification research at Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, Park Laboratory, University at Buffalo, NY, USA
  • 2009 - 2014: He became a post-doctoral researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute from Nov 2009, until Nov 2014.
  • 2003: PhD in Cell Biology, at Life Sciences School, Shandong University, Shandong, China.
  • 1992 - 2003: Shandong non-metallic geological engineering exploration academy (www.sinoma-shdd.cn), China National Materials Group Corporation (www.sinoma.cn)
  • 1992: Bachelor's degree in Engineering, Exploratory Geophysics, at Changchun Geology College, Jilin, China

Randall Shearer

PhD Student, HJKRI, Park Lab

  • 2015-present: Hunter James Kelly Research Institute, University at Buffalo, Biochemistry PhD student under Dr. Yungki Park.
  • 2010-2014: BA in Biochemistry, Hiram College

Mohamed Sharif

PhD Student, HJKRI, Park Lab

  • 2016 - present: Department of Biochemistry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, PhD student under Dr. Yungki Park in the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute
  • 2014 - 2015: Research Assistant, Department of Urology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Applied Technology Laboratory for Advanced Surgery (ATLAS) Progra
  • 2009 - 2013: BS in Biology and Chemistry, D'Youville College