Skip Navigation

Keon-young Park

Current Status: Alumni

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Previous Education: Physics, Emory University;  

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea


I LOVE all things good food, both eating and making & baking. If I wasn't in medical school, I'd move to Italy and open up a B&B with bakery attached to it. Also love classical music, musicals, opera, great guitar and drum solos, love skiing, wine, cheese, coffee & chocolate and ice cream... These days in my almost-non-existing free time, I'm on a quest to find the best burger place in Atlanta. 



About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Moreover, patient-to-patient variability in disease progression continues to complicate clinical decisions in diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients. Early detection of tumors is a key factor influencing patient survival, and advancements in diagnostic and imaging techniques has allowed clinicians to spot smaller sized lesions. There has also been an increase in premature treatments of non-malignant lesions because there is no clear way to predict whether these lesions will become invasive over time. Patient variability due to genetic polymorphisms has been investigated, but studies on variability at the level of cellular activity have been extremely limited. An individual’s biochemical milieu of cytokines, growth factors, and other stimuli contain a myriad of cues that pre-condition cells and induce patient variability in response to tumor progression or treatment. Circulating white blood cells called monocytes respond to these cues and enter tissues to differentiate into monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) and osteoclasts that produce cysteine cathepsins, powerful extracellular matrix proteases. Cathepsins have been mechanistically linked to accelerated tumor growth and metastasis. My projected aimed to elucidate the variability in disease progression among patients by examining the variability of protease production from tissue-remodeling macrophages and osteoclasts. Since most extracellular cues initiate multiple signaling cascades that are interconnected and dynamic, my work used a systems biology approach known as cue-signal-response (CSR) paradigm to capture this complexity comprehensively.   

Leadership in MD/PhD Program: Class Representatitive

Graduation Year: 2016

Residency: General Surgery, U Wisconsin

Mentor Web Site(s):