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Upstate student is one of only 4 in U.S. to receive special fellowship to study lupus

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Hans Kim of Upstate Medical University is one of four students in the United States to receive a Gina Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship from Lupus Foundation of America. The fellowship is given to foster interest in a career in lupus research and to support efforts of tomorrow’s lupus scientific thought leaders. Kim’s fellowship carries an award of $4,000.

Kim is conducting his research into lupus, otherwise known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, (SLE), in the laboratory of Andras Perl, M.D., Ph.D., chief of rheumatology, co-director of Upstate’s MD/PhD program and professor of medicine, biochemistry & molecular biology and microbiology and immunology at Upstate.

“I am thrilled and grateful to receive the Gina Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship from Lupus Foundation of America to support my research in lupus,” said Kim, who this fall will enter his second year in Upstate’s MD/PhD program. “I hope to understand this complex disease and eventually to improve medications and treatments to help lupus patients.”

Kim is using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to conduct a study of lupus T cells and to compare them to normal T cells. He is specifically looking for metabolites, or biomarkers, of the disease. (T cells contribute to immune defenses in the body.) “Any changes of metabolite can be used as a unique signature of a complex disease such as SLE,” said Kim.

He says that the outcome of his research will further understanding of lupus and the discovery of SLE biomarkers that can aid in the early detection of the disease and in the development of more targeted therapies to manage it.

This is the fourth award Hans has received since starting in Upstate’s MD/PhD program last June. He also received a fellowship from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (2013), a Waters Academic Grant (2012) and a 2012 American College of Rheumatology research preceptorship.

SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage, most often harming the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys and nervous system. It has no known cause, no known cure and it can be fatal.

Caption: MD/PhD student Hans Kim, left, with Andras Perl, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Rheumatology at Upstate Medical University. Kim is the recipient of a Gina Finzi Memorial Student Summer Fellowship from the Lupus Foundation of America.