Kyoungsun Rha

Graduate Student
Garcia Lab



  • B.A. Biology, University of Utah. 2013
  • Ph.D. Biology, In Progress, Texas A&M University.

Metabolic syndrome, a broad clinical term defined by a cluster of risk factors, increases the risk for cardiac, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Under stress conditions, such as low levels of oxygen, energetic tissue can readily switch to glycolytic metabolism, a flexibility that is compromised in metabolic syndrome. Any disruption of this tightly coupled respiration can result in overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to cell apoptosis.
With Dr. Harlow, we discovered an orphaned bile acid carrier protein that is highly conserved in mammals. Knocking out this protein in cardiac mitochondria resulted disrupted respiration including increased ROS production. I currently seek the location of this protein in the cardiac mitochondria and examine in detail the metabolic pathway this protein participates. My long-term research goal is to understand how energetic cells, like cardiac myocytes and neurons, regulate and maintain their tightly coupled metabolism.