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  •    Professor
  • Biochemistry and Chemical Biology
  • Ph. D. 2000, KAIST
  • WEBPAGE : http://msbl.kaist.ac.kr
  • E-MAIL : hspark@kaist.ac.kr
  • Tel/Office : 042-350-2813 (Office), 2853 (Lab) / 503(E6-6) (Room)

Contact information

Tel: (office) +82-42-350-2813, (lab) +82-42-350-2813
Location: (office) Room 503 (Bldg.E6-6), (lab) Room 519 (Bldg. E6-6)
Fax: +82-42-350-2810


Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, KAIST (2000)
M.S. Biological Sciences, KAIST (1996)
B.S. Food Science and Biotechnology, Seoul National University (1994)


2008- 2009 Research faculty
Yale University, Dept. of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
New Haven, CT, USA
2005 – 2008 Postdoctoral Associate with Prof. Dieter Soll
Yale University, Dept. of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
New Haven, CT, USA
2000 – 2005 Postdoctoral Associate with Prof. Hak-Sung Kim
KAIST, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Daejon, Korea
1996 – 2000 Research Associate
KAIST, Applied Science Research Center, Daejon, Korea


Brief Introduction

Many essential scientific and real world problems cannot be readily solved without knowledge and skills from various disciplines. We will enthusiastically tackle fundamental questions in life science and pressing challenges in real world by conducting creative and innovative research at the chemistry-biology interface. we plan to develop new synthetic biology technology to incorporate unnatural amino acids with novel functional groups into proteins, which will not only improve protein`s functions but also open up a new avenue for investigating the biological function and mechanism of proteins and lead to novel drug development. Our long term goal is to maximize the utility of synthetic biology technology and catalyze interdisciplinary research among basic and applied sciences, such as organic chemistry, structural biology, cell biology, protein engineering, and drug development in order to attack basic questions in life science and urgent tasks in biomedical science. 

Research topics

Widening genetic code expansion
- Development of novel synthetic biology technologies to incorporate unnatural amino acids into proteins
- Design and synthesis of unnatural amino acids with various chemical functional groups
- Production of proteins with new functions through genetic code expansion
- Development of protein engineering techniques for evolution of protein functions
- Optimization of protein synthesis (translation) machinery for efficient incorporation of unnatural amino acids
- Multiple incorporation of different unnatural amino acids
- Maximizing the genetic code utility
- Exclusive unnatural amino acid incorporation
- Innovative protein engineering technologies
Application of synthetic biology technology
- Drug development based on proteins with unnatural amino acids
- Development of new cancer drugs with high potency and selectivity
- Screening new protein kinase inhibitors overriding drug resistance
- Elucidation of biological function and mechanism of proteins through synthetic biology techniques

Representative publications

"Toward understanding phosphoseryl-tRNACys formation: The crystal structure of Methanococcus maripaludis phosphoseryl-tRNA synthetase", Satwik Kamtekar, Michael J. Hohn, Hee-Sung Park, Michael Schnitzbauer, Anselm Sauerwald, Dieter Söll, and Thomas A. Steitz, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2007, 104, 2620-2625.

"Emergence of the universal genetic code imprinted in an RNA record", Michael Hohn, Hee-Sung Park, Patrick ODonoghue, Michael Schnitzbauer and Dieter Söll., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2006,, 103, 18095-18100.

"Design and evolution of new catalytic activity with an existing protein scaffold", Hee-Sung Park, Sung-Hun Nam, Jin Kak Lee, Chang No Yoon, Bengt Mannervik, Stephen J. Benkovic, and Hak-Sung Kim, Science 2006, 311, 535-538 .

"Evolutionary relationship and application of a superfamily of cyclic amidohydrolase enzymes", Sung-Hun Nam, Hee-Sung Park, and Hak-Sung Kim, Chem. Rec. 2005, 5, 298-307.

"Manipulation of the active site loops of D-hydantoinase, a (/)8-barrel protein, for modulation of the substrate specificity", Young-Hoon Cheon,* Hee-Sung Park,* Jin-Hyun Kim and Hak-Sung Kim. Biochemistry, 2004, 43, 7413-7420. * equal contributors.

"Improving the functional expression of N-carbamoylase by directed evolution using the green fluorescent protein fusion reporter system", Hee-Sung Park, Ki-Hoon Oh, and Hak-Sung Kim, Methods Enzymol. 2004, 388, 187-195.