Sangjin Kim

Assistant Professor


Sangjin Kim

Primary Research Area

  • Biological Physics
159 Loomis Laboratory

For more information


Professor Kim studied chemistry as an undergraduate student in Seoul National University in South Korea and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010 under the supervision of X. Sunney Xie. Her thesis research on single molecule biophysics uncovered "DNA allostery," by which DNA-bound proteins can affect each other's DNA binding properties at a distance (Science, 2013). To study how single molecules function inside cells, Professor Kim switched her research area to microbiology and conducted her postdoctoral research in Christine Jacobs-Wagner's lab at Yale University. She studied spatio-temporal regulation of transcription, translation, and mRNA degradation in bacterial cells using both experimental and computational approaches. She joined the Department of Physics at Illinois in January, 2019 and is excited to combine her expertise in single molecule biophysics, microbiology and computational modeling to study the complexity of living cells at the single-molecule and single-cell levels.


  • Searle Scholar (2020)

Related news

  • Accolades

The Kinship Foundation of Chicago has named University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Physics Professor Sangjin Kim a 2020 Searle Scholar. Kim will receive $300,000 in research funding from the Searle Foundation over the next three years. Kim will use the funds to explore the properties and processes of allostery in DNA. Kim shares this distinction with one other U. of I. faculty member named this year, Chemistry Professor Lisa Olshansky.

  • Faculty Highlights
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

Sangjin is a biological physicist who brings both graduate work in single-molecule biophysics and postdoctoral research in microbiology to her research plan at Illinois. She developed the first study to establish that DNA has an allosteric property.

  • Research
  • Biological Physics
  • Biophysics

Scientists studying genetic transcription are gaining new insights into a process that is fundamental to all life. Transcription is the first step in gene expression, the process taking place within all living cells by which the DNA sequence of a gene is copied into RNA, which in turn (most generally speaking) serves as the template for assembling protein molecules, the basic building blocks of life.

Much of what scientists have uncovered about transcription over the past five decades is based on bulk investigative techniques employing large numbers of living cells. Today, advanced imaging techniques allow scientists to probe the inner workings of transcription at the scale of individual genes, and a new more detailed picture of this vital process is emerging.

Just this week, two new in vivo single-molecule studies of transcription in E. coli were published by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one by Professor Ido Golding and colleagues, unveiling unexpected and up-to-now hidden drivers of cellular individuality; the other by Professor Sangjin Kim and colleagues, demonstrating for the first time that transcription dynamics are affected by molecular-scale long-distance communication between RNA polymerase (RNAP) molecules while they are “reading” a gene sequence one base at a time and assembling the complementary RNA strand.