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Jae-Hyuck Shim, PhD

Jae-Hyuck Shim

By Merin C. MacDonald | Date published: November 13, 2023

November Researcher Spotlight: Jae-Hyuck Shim, PhD

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Jae-Hyuck Shim, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, director of the Bone Analysis Core, and a faculty member in the Horae Gene Therapy Center at UMass Chan Medical School. Additionally, along with Dr. Guangping Gao, Dr. Shim is the co-scientific founder of AAVAA Therapeutics, Incorporated, a company committed to developing gene therapies for the rare skeletal disease Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) 

Dr. Shim’s research focuses on elucidating the molecular and genetic pathways that control the activation and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, bone-forming osteoblasts, and bone-resorbing osteoclasts in pathological conditions, including complex skeletal diseases (osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), heterotopic ossification, bone fracture, critical-sized bone defects) and rare skeletal diseases (FOP and osteogenesis imperfecta). In particular, his lab is interested in understanding how key regulators of signal transduction contribute to the control of the skeletal system, understanding how dysregulation of these signaling pathways can be involved in bone regeneration and skeletal pathogenesis, and the development of novel gene therapy targeting these signaling components to treat the skeletal manifestations of specific disorders using bone-directed recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) and short interfering RNA (siRNA).   

Dr. Shim is currently a multi-PI on an R01 project funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) where he is studying novel approaches to promote the healing of bone loss in inflammatory arthritis. The major goal of this project is to determine the potential of a novel inhibitor of bone formation, Schnurri-3 (SHN3), as a target to prevent or treat inflammatory arthritis-induced bone loss. Additionally, he is testing bone-specific rAAV carrying an SHN3 silencer for the treatment of systemic bone loss and/or healing of articular bone erosion. Dr. Shim is also the PI on an R21 funded by NIAMS, where he is studying a novel bone-targeting AAV-mediated gene therapy to promote bone formation in osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects an estimated 10 million Americans over age 50 and osteoporosis-related fractures occur with serious health consequences. Osteoporosis continues to be a significant clinical problem for patients associated with aging despite current biologic and other therapeutic agents. This project aims to develop a novel bone anabolic gene therapy to treat osteoporosis. Dr. Shim is also a multi-PI on awards from the AAVAA Gene Therapeutics, the International FOP Foundation, and the Dong-A ST Inc., to develop new gene therapy to treat FOP, RA, and OA, respectively. Work from Dr. Shim and his colleagues has resulted in 14 U.S. Patents/provisional patents. 

Integral to Dr. Shim’s work, is his role as a mentor. Throughout his career, he has been committed to training tomorrow’s scientists and clinicians having worked with over 30 students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. Of this, Dr. Shim says, “I am extremely lucky to have many good mentors who taught me biotechnology, immunology, skeletal biology, and gene therapy, and helped build me up as an interdisciplinary translational scientist. They always told me that our mission is to nurture next-generation scientists and clinicians to make our community better. I am responsible for the delivery of their mission to my mentees. 

Dr. Shim studied innate immunity under the supervision of Dr. Sankar Ghosh in the Immunobiology Program at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut to obtain his PhD degree. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship and an instructorship in Infectious Diseases and Immunology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, under the mentorship of Dr. Laurie Glimcher. He also holds a BSc and MSc in Biotechnology from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. In 2016, he joined UMass Chan as an associate professor of medicine. Prior to his time at UMass Chan, Dr. Shim was an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weil Cornell Medicine in New York.  

The Department of Medicine at UMass Chan has a strong collegial environment where scientists and clinicians with diverse backgrounds can work together and create novel scientific findings and therapeutic interventions,” remarked Dr. Shim. Most importantly, it is a very enjoyable place to work.”  

We are thankful to Dr. Shim for his contributions to the Department of Medicine.