Promotions 2021: Q&A with Hoon-Ki Sung

Hoon-Ki Sung

This year, we celebrate a record 12 promotions in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.

We speak to each of them to learn more about their role and what this promotion means to them.

Dr. Hoon-Ki Sung has been promoted to Associate Professor.

What is your role in LMP?

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) and a Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute.

The goals of my research program are to study the molecular mechanisms of the adaptive responses of body fat (adipose tissue) to various nutritional (overnutrition, feeding-fasting) and pathological (obesity) conditions. To this end, the last few years of my research group has focused greatly on

  1. the fasting-mediated adipose tissue remodeling and
  2. its metabolic benefits and molecular mechanisms.
  3. In addition, we also established advanced technologies (mass cytometry single cell analysis and 3D adipose imaging system) for adipose tissue biology and metabolism research.

Why did you pursue an academic career?

During my time in medical school, I have learned about human diseases and treatments. As an inquisitive person, I asked many ‘why or how’ questions regarding modern medicine and human diseases. I realized that the causes of many human diseases are still considerably unknown, and the treatments and methods for these diseases remain conservative.

This prompted me to think about biomedical research and motivated me to pursue an academic career. I was particularly interested in stem cells and regenerative medicine during my graduate studies, which led me to come to Toronto, where the biological concept of ‘stem cell’ was born. The long-term goal of my research program will focus on adipose stem cells in metabolic disorder and tissue regeneration.

What does this promotion mean to you?

It means a lot to me.

First, I am very grateful that my academic and scholarly activities were recognized by the University of Toronto.

Second, I would like to share this accomplishment with all my team members and acknowledge their hard work and their creative ideas. Our team effort is the core of this achievement, and it wouldn’t be possible without my lab members and trainees.

Third, I would like to thank my family for always being there and for giving me so much love and support over the past few years. When I told my parents in South Korea, they were in tears and were very proud of their youngest child.

If you can go back, what advice would you give your younger self?

If you know what you want to do, don’t hesitate and just go for it. You know that you will try it anyway, so don’t worry too much about failing.

When you are young, you should take more risks whenever you can. There are lots of chances to compensate for failures as well as opportunities to try again.

You should however also understand that you cannot do everything at the same time. Although there are so many things you would like to do, sometimes you should focus on the most critical goals for your future career and your family.

What advice would you give faculty who would like to apply for promotion?

If possible, plan ahead and start preparing your dossier earlier. It would be great if you can get some feedback from your peers and senior faculty members. I would be more than happy to share my experiences with faculty members who would like to apply for a promotion as well.

How did you manage your time in putting your dossier together considering your multiple priorities?

Preparing my promotion dossier was indeed challenging.

The process required a lot of information collection, document preparation, and writing, which was beyond my expectation. However, the promotion workshop organized by the LMP department was very helpful.

In addition, despite the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, the administrative team of the LMP department has been very supportive in putting together my promotion dossier. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all the LMP workshop organizers and administrative team.

Find out more about promotion

Promotion guidelines: to Associate Professor and Professor

Contact Patricia Cayetano at patricia.cayetano@utoronto.ca if you are a faculty member in LMP and want to learn more about the promotion process, workshops, and more.