Dr. Rinho Kim started his Ph.D. in the Fall of 2010 as part of the Genetics and Epigenetics graduate group. He joined Dr. Klaus Kaestner’s lab for his thesis work in studying the epigenetic regulation of intestinal stem cell differentiation. Dr. Kim was always interested in Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies and started working on developing his wet and dry lab skills in the field early on in his thesis project.
After graduating in the fall of 2016, Dr. Kim wanted to apply his skills to human disease research. He also wanted to explore opportunities in Europe, having spent the previous 8.5 years in the US after moving here from South Korea. He took to the internet for job search and came across multiple positions on the European epigenetics consortium-Epigenesys. After sending applications along with his resume and cover letter to professors via email, he interviewed via Skype at first and then travelled to multiple cities in Europe for on-site interviews. He got an offer from the Institute of Functional Epigenetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München / German Centre for Environmental Health (HMGU). The institute, which specializes in large-scale projects focused on diabetes, allergies, and lung diseases, was looking for an NGS expert for their diabetes and obesity research. Dr. Kim accepted the offer since the project involved working with patient samples which excited him.
At HMGU, Dr. Kim spearheaded his own project as a postdoctoral researcher, analyzing patient derived adipocytes to find epigenetic signatures of metabolic complications. Additionally, he was in charge of NGS training and support for his group and collaborators at HMGU. Dr. Kim says that his job was very rewarding and led him to find a new position at the NGS core facility at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Munich, where he will lead a small service group to support NGS needs of other investigators, such as library preparations and Illumina sequencing.
Dr. Kim says that life in Germany allows for a great work-life balance: 30 paid vacation days, at least a dozen national holidays per year, child benefits, and family health insurance. International post-doctoral candidates in Germany, like him, work with a specialized work and residential permit called the Blue Card. Blue card holders can become eligible for permanent residency within 2-3 years, and generally without any complications. Dr. Kim also emphasizes that while the locals know conversational English, picking up conversational German is not tough. For the traveler in all of us, you can visit multiple countries like France, Italy, the Netherland, and Belgium easily by car or train and enjoy the multitude of carnivals and music festivals.
While at Penn, Dr. Kim attended the 2015 FASEB meeting- Gastrointestinal Tract XVI and the 2016 Keystone Symposium in Chromatin and Epigenetics. He also received an AGA-Horizon Pharma Student Abstract Prize from the American Gastroenterological Association for an abstract submitted for their Digestive Disease Week® (DDW). He recommends that students keep an open mind and an eye out for internship and exchange opportunities in Europe and explore options like the EMBO short-term fellowship (http://bit.ly/2xr9xHq) or Epigenetics@HMGU/PENN (https://bit.ly/2NgHJjL).
While at Penn, Dr. Kim started the Korean Basketball Club with his friends and served as the Vice president of the Korean Graduate Students Association for the year 2011-12. He believes that the support and training he got from the outstanding faculty and wonderful program coordinators at Penn helped him develop the necessary skills for his post-doctoral work. He implores all students and mentees to make good use of the facilities at Penn and BGS to explore all future career options, and emphasizes how useful he found the Penn Biomedical Career Fair for this purpose.