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Seung J. Baek
Associate Professor
Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences

Research Interests

My lab has been focusing on the study of gene expression byanti-cancer compounds, found in diet, nonsteroidalanti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), PPAR g-ligands, and anti-oxidants. Our understanding of the mechanisms by which those compounds exert their anti tumor effect is not clear, but apoptosis induction is one mechanism to explain their anti-tumorigenic activity. We have investigated the stimulation of apoptosis in cultured cells by NSAIDs, and NSAID activated gene (NAG-1), which is a TGF-b superfamily protein, was identified. NAG-1 has anti-tumorigenic activity, and stimulates apoptosis in colorectal and other cancer cell lines. NAG-1 basal expression is up regulated by Sp1, Sp3, and COUP-TF1 transcriptional factors, and by activators of the p53 tumor suppressor gene. Interestingly, NAG-1 is induced not only by NSAIDs, but also by several anti-tumorigenic compounds such as dietary compounds, nuclear receptor ligands, anti-oxidants, and some anti-cancer drugs. For the current interesting, we are focusing on 1) promoter analysis of NAG-1 including the identification of cis-acting and trans-acting elements responsible for several compounds, 2) the elucidation of biological function(s) of NAG-1 protein in apoptosis and other pathophysiological role using cell culture and animal models.


  • Ph.D. in Human Genetics.
    University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Baltimore MD, U.S.A. 1998.
  • M.S. in Agricultural Chemistry.
    Seoul National University, Korea, 1991
  • B.S. in Agricultural Chemistry
    Seoul National University, Korea, 1989.

Professional Experience

  • 2003 - Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathobiology, Knoxville, TN
  • 2002-2003 Research Fellow, NIEHS, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • 1998-2002 IRTA Fellowship, NIEHS, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC


  • 2006-2011 National Institutes of Health/NCI RO1CA108975
  • 2006-2009 American Cancer Society RSG-06-124-01-CNE
  • 2005-2007 National Institutes of Health R21CA109423
  • 2003-2006 National Institutes of Health, 1 K22 ES011657-01A1

Courses Taught

  • CEM 609: Mechanisms of Disease

Professional Societies

  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • American Association for Cancer Research