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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


How Do Muscle and Fat Develop? OARDC Scientist Honored for Findings in Animals, People

April 27, 2012

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Kichoon Lee, an associate professor in Ohio State University’s Department of Animal Sciences, yesterday (4/26) received the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) 2012 Distinguished Junior Faculty Research Award. The award honors outstanding achievements by an OARDC faculty member at the rank of assistant or associate professor. The center is part of Ohio State.

Lee conducts research on food animal nutrition, physiology, tissue biology and processing with a special focus on discovering and understanding novel factors related to the development of muscle and adipose, or fat, tissue.

“Lee’s findings offer considerable potential to improve animal productivity as well as quality and consumer acceptance of animal products. Moreover, they have direct application to the control of various diseases associated with human obesity and a complex web of diseases and ailments related to this ‘metabolic syndrome,’” one of his nominators said.

“His research exemplifies OARDC’s role in progressing efficiency of food animal production while deriving unique inter-relationships to improve human health,” the same nominator said.

In his research, Lee works to identify genetic and metabolic networks that regulate the development of muscle and adipose tissue. Ultimately, his findings can lead to new breeding strategies for selecting superior lines of animals with greater muscle growth, less fat and more marbling.

Likewise, developing new genetic and nutritional approaches to modulate the expression of candidate genes in fat and muscle tissue can benefit animal production, a nominator noted.

Lee has attracted $826,000 in grants to support his research since joining OARDC in 2004. He has published 34 peer-reviewed papers in such high-impact journals as Lipids, Poultry Science and Endocrinology, with more than 20 coming since he joined the center. In 2005, the editors of Endocrinology posted an editorial comment highlighting the originality and impact of Lee’s first-authored article.

“OARDC was fortunate to attract such a strong and well-rounded young scientist, collaborator, mentor and colleague,” another nominator said.

Lee has advised two Ph.D. students, mentored five postdoctoral associates or visiting scientists, and has served or serves on the committees of 13 Ph.D. and three master’s degree students. He also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Animal Science and is associate editor of Lipids.

He has previously been named Honorary Scientist by the Republic of Korea’s Rural Development Administration and has twice received the Brilliant Korean Scientist award.

He holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree from Chung-Ang University, South Korea.

The OARDC award carries with it a plaque, $1,000 and $3,000 added to the operating expense account of Lee’s research program. OARDC Director Steve Slack presented the award during a ceremony at the center’s annual research conference in Wooster.

The members of the selection committee were OARDC scientists Ron Hammond (chair), Katrina Cornish, Kristy Daniels, Terry Graham, Chang Won Lee and Ed McCoy.

In addition to Slack, the speakers at the conference included John Oliver, president of Maple Leaf Bio-Concepts, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Brian Cummings, Ohio State’s vice president for technology commercialization and knowledge transfer; and Bobby Moser, Ohio State’s executive vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

OARDC is the research arm of CFAES and is the largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the U.S. The center works not just on food and farming but also, for example, on biofuels, bioproducts, health, nutrition, sustainability and the environment.

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Kurt Knebusch
Steve Slack