The Kim Lab

at the University of Toronto


Dr. Junchul Kim

2005~2010 - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genetics Department, Harvard Medical School, USA.

2005 - Ph.D. in Molecular biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Canada.

1996 - B.Sc. in Biology, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

We are interested in understanding how the brain is wired for processing information from the environment to generate approach-avoidance behaviours, with a particular focus on neuronal circuits that modulate behaviours associated with anxiety and schizophrenia. Using the mouse as a model organism, we are currently using various genetic approaches for neuron manipulation, including opto- and pharmacogenetics. We hope that the resultant findings yield new insights into the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and anxiety-related disorders and potentially provide new therapeutic targets for their treatment.



Postdoctoral research fellows

Paul Whissell

Dept. of Psychology

I am a neuroscientist with a long-standing interest in exploring the neural mechanisms of anxiety, depression, novelty preference and memory. For the past several years, I've intensively studied the very important role that specific GABAA receptor subtypes and GABAergic cells (interneurons) play in these behaviors. Recently, I've also begun to examine the role that cannabinoids (including the ever-controversial THC) play in the development of GABAergic networks and behavior. Outside of the laboratory, I'm also a teacher, active volunteer, runner and weight-lifter. I enjoy good films, terrible food and mediocre Toronto sports teams. 


Gustavo Morrone Parfitt

Dept. of Psychology



Sabrina Nawaz

Dept. of Psychology

Hi. I'm Sabrina! 4th year PhD. My hobbies include photography, painting, and cooking :) I also throw awesome lab parties :P my research involves investigating the function of serotonin projections from the dorsal raphe to the ventral hippocampus and their role in stress and anxiety. 


Afif Aqrabawi

Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology

I joined the Kim Lab as an undergraduate at UofT. Since then I have been interested and working on the organization and function of the rodent olfactory system. In particular, my research focuses on the role of the anterior olfactory nucleus in early olfactory processing and odour-guided behaviours. When I am not daydreaming about the AON, I am usually in the gym, cooking, or reading a book. 


Janine Dominique Cajanding

Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology

Research areas include neurodevelopmental risk factors: prenatal infection, chronic cannabinoid activation; perisomatic gaba neurons: parvalbumin, CCK; epigenetic profiling; behavioural neuroscience; transgenic mouse lines.  

What draws me in to science? The pursuit to discover an objective truth, the appeal of scientific rigour and competition, the ability to share your ideas and findings to a community and the possibility of making an impact on a clinical level. Outside the lab I enjoy photography, fitness, and good eats.



June Bang

Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology

I am a Master's student with neuroscience and cell & molecular biology background. My project is all about the neural circuitry associated with stress response. I'm interested in the hypothalamic circuitry and wish to understand the limbic integration/modulation of stress and anxiety behavior.

On my spare time, I like to draw, read, and play lacrosse (or try to be active). I also try to travel as much as I can. I love doing science because it's fun! It's awesome to learn/discover new things and be challenged.


Lab Manager

Ikram Khan

Ikram received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Psychology from the University of Toronto. He has a strong interest in understanding the physiological basis of neuropathology and how current research methods can be extended into the clinical realm. Under the supervision of John Yeomans, Ikram conducted an independent study exploring the possible use of Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) in treating Parkinson’s Disease. His current research goals are to better understand interneuron-mediated pathology using DREADD manipulations. 


Parfitt GM, Nguyen R, Bang JY, Aqrabawi AJ, Tran MM, Seo DK, Richards BA, Kim JC. Bidirectional Control of Anxiety-Related Behaviours in Mice: Role of Inputs Arising from the Ventral Hippocampus to the Lateral Septum and Medial Prefrontal Cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Mar 15.

Aqrabawi AJ*, Browne CJ*, Dargaei Z, Garand D, Khademullah CS, Woodin MA, Kim JC. Top-down modulation of olfactory-guided behaviours by the anterior olfactory nucleus pars medialis and ventral hippocampus. *These authors contributed equally to this work. Nature Communications. 2016 Dec 22;7:13721.

Cloke JM, Nguyen R, Chung BY, Wasserman DI, De Lisio S, Kim JC, Bailey CD, Winters BD. A Novel Multisensory Integration Task Reveals Robust Deficits in Rodent Models of Schizophrenia: Converging Evidence for Remediation via Nicotinic Receptor Stimulation of Inhibitory Transmission in the Prefrontal Cortex. J Neurosci. 2016 Dec 14;36(50):12570-12585.

Wasserman DI, Tan JM, Kim JC, Yeomans JS. Muscarinic control of rostromedial tegmental nucleus GABA neurons and morphine-induced locomotion. Eur J Neurosci. 2016 Jul;44(1):1761-70.

Okaty BW, Freret ME, Rood BD, Brust RD, Hennessy ML, DeBairos D, Kim JC, Cook MN, Dymecki SM. Multi-Scale Molecular Deconstruction of the Serotonin Neuron System. Neuron. 2015. 88, 774–791.

Britz O, Zhang J, Grossmann KS, Dyck J, Kim JC, Dymecki S, Gosgnach S, Goulding M. (2015). A genetically defined asymmetry underlies the inhibitory control of flexor-extensor locomotor movements. elife (4): e04718.

Whissell, PD, Cajanding, JD, Fogel, N, & Kim JC. Comparative density of CCK- and PV-GABA cells within the cortex and hippocampus. Front. Neuroanat. 2015 Aug 31;9(124):

Nguyen R, Morrissey MD, Mahadevan V, Cajanding JD, Woodin MA, Yeomans JS, Takehara-Nishiuchi K, Kim JC. Parvalbumin and GAD65 Interneuron Inhibition in the Ventral Hippocampus Induces Distinct Behavioral Deficits Relevant to Schizophrenia. J Neurosci. 2014 Nov 5;34(45):14948-60.

Heimer-McGinn V, Murphy AC, Kim JC, Dymecki SM, Young PW. Decreased dendritic spine density as a consequence of tetanus toxin light chain expression in single neurons in vivo. Neurosci Lett. 2013 Oct 25;555:36-41.

Ray RS*, Corcoran AE*, Brust RD*, Kim JC, Richerson GB, Nattie E, Dymecki SM. Impaired respiratory and body temperature control upon acute serotonergic neuron inhibition. *Equal contribution. Science. 2011 Jul 29;333(6042):637-42. 

Dymecki SM, Ray RS, Kim JC. Mapping cell fate and function using recombinase-based intersectional strategies. Methods In Enzymology. 2010; 477:183-213.  

Kim JC, Cook MN, Carey MR, Shen C, Regehr WG, Dymecki SM. Linking genetically defined neurons to behavior through a broadly applicable silencing allele. Neuron 2009; 63 (3):305-15.

Kim JC, Dymecki SM. Genetic fate-mapping approaches: new means to explore the embryonic origins of the cochlear nucleus. Methods Molecular Biology 2009 (493):65-85. 

Dymecki SM, Kim JC. Molecular neuroanatomy's "Three Gs": a primer. Neuron 2007; 54 (1): 17-34.

Kim JC*, Badano JL*, Sibold S*, Esmail MA, Hill J, Hoskins BE, Leitch CC, Venner K, Ansley SJ, Ross AJ, Leroux MR, Katsanis N, Beales PL. The Bardet-Biedl protein BBS4 targets cargo to the pericentriolar region and is required for microtubule anchoring and cell cycle progression. *Equal contribution. Nature Genetics 2004 May; 36(5):462-70

Kim JC, Ou Y, Badano JL, Esmail MA, Leitch CC, Fiedrich E, Beales PL, Archibald JM, Katsanis N, Rattner JB, Leroux MR. (2004) MKKS/BBS6, a divergent chaperonin-like protein linked to the obesity disorder Bardet-Biedl syndrome, is a novel centrosomal component required for cytokinesis. Journal of Cell Science 2005 Mar; 118(5):1007-20. 

Ansley JS*, Badano JL*, Blacque OE*, Hill J, Hoskins BE, Leitch CC, Kim JC, Ross AJ, Eichers ER, Teslovich TM, Mah AK, Johnsen RC, Cavender JC, Lewis RA, Leroux MR, Beales PL, Katsanis N (2003). Basal body dysfunction is a likely cause of pleiotropic Bardet–Biedl syndrome. *Equal contribution. Nature 2003 Oct 9; 425(6958): 628-33.

Badano JL, Kim JC, Hoskins BE, Lewis RA, Ansley SJ, Cutler DJ, Castellan C, Beales PL, Leroux MR, Katsanis N. Heterozygous mutations in BBS1, BBS2 and BBS6 have a potential epistatic effect on Bardet-Biedl patients with two mutations at a second BBS locus. Human Molecular Genetics 2003 Jul 15; 12(14): 1651-9. 

Han SY, Kim JC, Chung IK Cell type-dependent regulation of human DNA topoisomerase III alpha gene expression by upstream stimulatory factor 2. FEBS Letter 2001 Sep 7; 505(1): 57-62.

Kim JC, Yoon JB, Koo HS, Chung IK (1998) Cloning and characterization of the 5'-flanking region for the human topoisomerase III gene. Journal of Biological Chemistry 273: 26130-7.

Son YS, Suh JM, Ahn SH, Kim JC, Yi JY, Hur KC, Hong WS, Muller MT, Chung IK. Reduced activity of topoisomerase II in an Adriamycin-resistant human stomach-adenocarcinoma cell line. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology 1998, 41: 353-60.



Lab: (416) 978-3403 

Office: (416) 978-4260


Room 4028, Sydney Smith building, 100 St George street

Psychology Department, University of Toronto

Toronto ON, Canada

M5S 3G3