Kim, Han

Kyoung-Han Kim, PhD, is a scientist and director of the Functional Genetics and Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa.


Dr. Kim obtained his BSc from the Department of Life Science at Sogang University in the Republic of Korea, and his PhD from the Department of Physiology, University of Toronto with Dr. Peter H. Backx. He pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, under the direction of Dr. Chi-Chung Hui. 

His prior research focused on the role of the Iroquois transcription factor (Irx) family in the cardiovascular system and energy metabolism. He demonstrated the roles of Irx3 and Irx5 in the developing and adult heart, showing that Irx3 establishes rapid electrical propagation in the ventricular conduction system, while Irx5 regulates cardiac contractility. Moreover, he revealed that these two novel genetic factors, Irx3 and Irx5, are functional targets of the non-coding FTO variants associated with obesity. In 2017, he established his research laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Dr. Kim has served as a reviewer for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the CIHR Institute Community Support (ICS) Program, and the Research Grants Council (RGC) as well as Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) of Hong Kong, China.

He has received various awards, including the McDonald Scholarship as the highest-ranked National New Investigator from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (2021), the Keystone Symposia Future of Science Fund scholarship (2016) and the Andrew Sass-Kortsak Award from the Hospital for Sick Children (2014).

Dr. Kim’s research program is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the J. P. Bickell Foundation for Medical Research, and uOttawa Translational Research Grant.

Research and clinical interests

Dr. Kim’s research program focuses on the genetic and metabolic regulation of heart development, function and disease, with an emphasis on obesity, diabetes and heart failure. He is interested in the molecular function and mechanism of Irx transcription factors in the heart, which are not only implicated in organ development, but also in energy homeostasis regulation.

The team is also investigating metabolism of the heart and its communications with other core metabolic tissues/organs (e.g., adipose tissue and liver). Using genetically engineered mice as primary models, the research programme integrates physiology with molecular and systems biology approaches to address fundamental questions about cardiac metabolism in heart function and diseases.


See current publications list at PubMed

Selected publications:

  • Asif S, Kim RY, Fatica T, Sim J, Zhao X, Oh Y, Denoncourt A, Cheung AC, Downey M, Mulvihill EE, Kim KH. (2022) Hmgcs2-mediated ketogenesis modulates high fat diet-induced hepatosteatosis. Molecular Metabolism 101494. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2022.101494
  • Kim KH§, Oh Y, Liu J, Dababneh S, Kim RY, Ban KW, Husain M, Hui CC, Backx PH§. (2022) Irx5 regulates cardiac contractility via KV4.2-encoded transient outward K+ currents. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00572.2021 (§, co-corresponding authors)
  • Son JE, Dou Z, W Siyi, Chan J, Mo R, Li, X, Huang X, Kim KH, Michaud JL, Hui CC. (2021) Ectopic expression of Irx3 and Irx5 in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus contributes to defects in Sim1 haploinsufficiency. Science Advances 7(44):eabh4503
  • Son JE, Dou Z, Kim KH, W Siyi, Cha VSB, Mo R, Zhang X, Ketela T, Li X, Huang X, Hui CC. (2021) Irx3 and Irx5 in Ins2-Cre+ cells regulate hypothalamic postnatal neurogenesis and leptin response. Nature Metabolism 3(5):701-713
  • Asif S, Morrow NM, Mulvihill EE, Kim KH. (2020) Understanding Dietary Intervention-mediated Epigenetic Modifications in Metabolic Diseases. Frontiers in Genetics 11:590369
  • Kim RY, Lee JH, Oh Y, Sung HK, Kim KH. (2019) Assessment of the Metabolic Effects of Isocaloric 2:1 Intermittent Fasting in Mice. J Vis Exp. 2019 Nov 27;(153). doi: 10.3791/60174.
  • Kim YH, Lee JH, Yeung JL, Das E, Kim RY, Jiang Y, Moon JH, Jeong H, Thakkar N, Son JE, Trzaskalski N, Hui CC, Doh KO, Mulvihill EE, Kim JR, Kim KH#, Sung HK#. (2019) Thermogenesis-independent metabolic benefits conferred by isocaloric intermittent fasting in ob/ob mice. Scientific Reports. 21;9(1):2479 (#, co-corresponding authors)
  • Kim KH, Kim YH, Moon JH, Son JE, Kim S, Choe MS, Zhong J, Lee JH, Fu K, Lenglin F, Park JG, Bilan PJ, Klip A, Nagy A, JR Kim, Hussein SM, Doh KO, Hui CC, Sung HK. (2017) Intermittent fasting Promotes Metabolic Improvement and Adipose Thermogenesis via VEGF-mediated Alternative Activation of Adipose Macrophage. Cell Research. 27(11):1309-1326
  • Kim KH, Rosen A, Hussain SM, Puviindran V, Korogyi AS, Chiarello C, Nagy A, Hui CC, Backx PH. (2016) Irx3 is required for Postnatal Development of the Mouse Ventricular Conduction System. Scientific Reports. 6, 19197; doi: 10.1038/srep19197.
  • Smemo S*, Tena JJ*, Kim KH*, Gamazon ER, Sakabe NJ, Gómez-Marín C, Aneas I, Credidio FL, Sobreira DR, Wasserman NF, Lee JH, Puviindran V, Tam D, Shen M, Son JE, Vakili NA, Sung HK, Naranjo S, Acemel RD, Manzanares M, Nagy A, Cox NJ, Hui CC, Gomez-Skarmeta JL, Nobrega MA (2014) Obesity-associated variants within FTO form long-range functional connections with IRX3. Nature. 507(7492):371-5. (*, co-first authors)
Han Kim, PhD, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Kim, Han

Kim, Han


Appointments and affiliations

University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Functional Genetics and Metabolism Laboratory
University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Assistant Professor
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Medicine
University of Ottawa