Won Do Heo | AIChE

Won Do Heo

Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST)

My journey in scientific research—a relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation—began with my Ph.D. studies in Biochemistry at Gyeongsang National University. I explored the intricate world of plant signaling mechanisms there, uncovering groundbreaking insights that earned me the Excellent Ph.D. Thesis Award. My thesis work was also one of Korea's best publications in the field of plant biology. This formative period laid the foundation for my future endeavors, instilling a profound appreciation for the complex interplay of molecular pathways in living organisms.

My postdoctoral research at Stanford University under the esteemed guidance of Dr. Tobias Meyer was nothing short of transformative. There, I immersed myself in mammalian cell signaling, dedicating my efforts to cloning over 100 human small GTPases and generating more than 300 mutants. This monumental task was not merely about numbers but about unlocking the secrets of cellular communication and signaling networks. The fruits of this labor were pivotal findings published in top-tier journals such as Cell, Science, and Nature, marking significant milestones in the fields of bio-imaging and molecular cellular biology. My progression to the role of Senior Research Scientist within a mere three years at Stanford was a testament to my research capability, leadership qualities, and ability to foster a spirit of collaboration and innovation.

My scientific journey continued as I established the Bio-Imaging and Optogenetics Laboratory at KAIST. Here, my team and I embarked on a mission to unravel more of the complexities of cell signaling networks. We propelled our research to unprecedented heights by developing novel imaging tools and cultivating robust collaborations. Joining the Center for Cognition and Sociality at IBS in 2013 was a natural extension of my quest to push the boundaries of our understanding of cell signaling and neuronal function. Leading the charge in developing cutting-edge bio-imaging and optogenetic tools, my work has been pivotal in the dissection and analysis of transient signaling dynamics, significantly enriching our understanding of the intricate tapestry of cell signaling and neuronal function. The past fifteen years reshaped the landscape of molecular optogenetics and synthetic biology. My lab at KAIST (2008-present) and IBS (2013-2018) has been a beacon of innovation, as evidenced by our prolific output of high-quality, peer-reviewed publications. Our work has deepened our understanding of fundamental cellular processes and opened new avenues for therapeutic interventions for the treatment of various diseases.