Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Kim Laboratory

Research Projects

Uterus DiagramThe Kim Laboratory is interested in elucidating mechanisms of progesterone receptor (PR) action in hormone-dependent tissues and associated diseases including Endometrial Cancer, Breast Cancer and Uterine Fibroids.

Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer diagnosed in the United States with an estimated 40,00 new cases resulting in approximately 7,500 deaths. As risk factors for endometrial cancer increase, the incidence of endometrial cancer will also rise, with a paradigm shift to younger ages. In our laboratory, we investigate how obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) increases risk for endometrial cancer with a focus on progesterone sensitivity.

NIH 1R01CA243249: Understanding Progesterone Receptor action in Obesity for Endometrial Cancer Prevention

Leiomyoma (Uterine Fibroids)

Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are benign tumors originating from the myometrium. These tumors can range from a few millimeters to over 20 cm in size. Leiomyomas are common and can occur in up to 77% of women while up to 20% of women suffer from significant morbidity, pain and discomfort, and excessive menstrual bleeding. In our laboratory we are investigating how reactive oxygen species can promote the development and growth of leiomyomas. In addition, racial disparity of leiomyomas will be investigated in the context of ROS signaling. We aim to understand how targeting hormonal and ROS pathways can specifically prevent or treat leiomyomas.

NIH R01CA254367: Reactive Oxygen Species in the Initiation, Survival and Racial Disparity of Uterine Leiomyoma

Building a microphysiological system for PCOS

The primary goal of this study is to build and use a microphysiological system to study PCOS in vitro. We will combine tissues that are dysregulated in PCOS within a microfluidic platform to study tissue interactions and responses to hyperandrogenemia associated with PCOS and ultimately test drugs and environmental disruptors in this platform.


Breast Cancer

Epidemiologic and laboratory studies strongly point to a pro-proliferative role of progesterone in the breast. In collaboration with Dr. Seema Khan (Northwestern), this study explores the action of receptors to estrogen and progesterone in the normal breast in high risk BRCA1 carriers in order to test the efficacy of blocking PR as a mode of prevention for these women.

NIH 1R01CA192124 Progesterone Signaling and Blockade in Human Breast Tumorigenesis and Prevention