In memory of Prof. Tong H. Joh (AKN co-founder)

  • February 9, 2021 at 2:57 am #608
    AKN Admin


      We are deeply saddened to inform the Korean Neuroscience community of the passing of Dr. Tong H. Joh, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and a founding member of AKN, who  passed away on December 22, 2020. 

            Prof. Joh was born in Korea and received his BA in Chemistry at Seoul National University in 1953 and his PhD in Biochemistry at New York University in 1971. He was appointed as Instructor in the Department of Neurology at Cornell University Medical College in 1972 and rose to the rank of Professor, working at Cornell Med for 38 years. Prof. Joh founded the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology at Burke Neurological Institute and conducted his research as a director from 1985 to 2005. He became Professor Emeritus and continued his research in the Department of Neurology and Neuroscience at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Prof. Joh’s research focused on the characterization of dopamine (DA) neuronal plasticity, biochemical and genetic analysis of catecholamine biosynthesis, especially DA biosynthesis, and molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying DA neuronal degeneration. Notably, he was the first scientist to develop an antibody targeting tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a key enzyme for the catecholamine synthesis, and visualize dopaminergic neurons in the brain. He was an innovator who integrated molecular biology techniques into the neuroscience field; he cloned all major genes for catecholamine synthesis and transformed the direction of catecholamine research. His interest in TH stemmed from his abiding commitment to find cures for Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.

           Prof. Joh published over 300 refereed articles in major international journals and nearly 100 books/book chapters on these studies. He was named as an original member of 100 Highly cited Influential Researchers in Neuroscience by the Institute of Scientific Information in 2001.  He was also a recipient of Julius Axelrod Prize from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) in 2007.

           Prof. Joh had a keen, active mind and was always one step ahead of the field. In addition to his ground breaking research accomplishments, his greatest legacy is the scientists he trained, many of whom are now accomplished researchers at the forefront of the neuroscience field in Korea and the US. He trained 15 Ph.D. students, 20 postdoctoral fellows and 35 visiting scientists in his career. He was a founding member of the AKN in 1982 and remained as a passionate supporter of its missions. His lasting influence on the study of neuroscience in South Korea can be felt as the field continues to expand and develop. He will be remembered as a role model by his scientist colleagues and fondly remembered as a cheerleader with passion, energy, and creativity by his mentees.

            Our deepest condolences go to the Joh family. Prof. Joh will be missed, but his life has had a tremendous impact, and his legacy will always be alive and well here at AKN.

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