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Joon Haeng Rhee

Professor of Microbiology, Chonnam National University Medical School

Dr. Joon Haeng Rhee is a graduate of Chonnam National University Medical School and received PhD from the same university. He has been working on molecular microbial pathogenesis and vaccine biology for more than 30 years.

For the molecular microbial pathogenesis studies, his laboratory has been observing the V. vulnificus-host interactions using various molecular and cellular microbiological tools. His team was the first reporter of the whole genome sequence of V. vulnificus, which became one of the most widely used standard strains in the Vibrio research field. They identified an RTX (repeats in toxin) toxin as the culprit of deadly host-killing mechanism in the V. vulnificus infections and recently developed an effective preventive vaccine and therapeutic monoclonal antibody targeting a specific region of the toxin. Vaccine study was first started aiming the high mortality V. vulnificus infections. During the vaccine research, his team came across the finding that a flagellin protein of V. vulnificus has an excellent mucosal adjuvant effect in late 1990s, which was later proved by his group and others to be mediated by the TLR5 signaling. Currently his laboratory is studying the basic science and applications related to the flagellin-TLR5-mediated immune modulation. His team reported the mechanism how TLR5 is very well maintained in senescent animals and proposed that flagellin could be used an effective adjuvant for vaccines against infectious diseases affecting elderly population. Now flagellin is applied to the development of effective vaccines and immunotherapeutics against diverse diseases such as cancers, allergies, and Alzheimer’s disease.

He was the president of Korean Vaccine Society (KVS) from 2013 to 2015. He hosted the 2015 International Society for Vaccines (ISV) Congress in Seoul as a local co-chair. He was elected as an ISV Fellow and serves a member of ISV Executive Board. He served editorial board member for Infection and Immunity and Microbiology and Immunology journals. He is currently the director of Clinical Vaccine R&D Center and Combinatorial Tumor Immunotherapy Research Center of Chonnam National University. As of August 2021, he has more than 160 papers published in peer-reviewed journals and named as an inventor on 20 patents

ISV Fellow of the Month
South Korea