Somerville Medic Named Best PhD Candidate 2020

15th July 2020

Congratulations to Dr Young Chan Kim (2016, Clinical Medicine) on being named the overall winner of the Nuffield Department of Medicine’s Graduate Student Prize 2020, best PhD Candidate.

The Graduate Studies Committee at the Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) awards prizes each year to current or recently graduated students of NDM supervisors on the basis of their publication record, the impact and novelty of their research, references, and the impact of their research within the department.

Young studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London before undertaking his medical degree in Nottingham and working in junior doctor posts in Nottingham. Having always wanted to combine clinical medicine with a career in research, he commenced a DPhil in Clinical Medicine at Somerville in 2016 and, in his first year, was awarded the James S Porterfield Prize in International Virology 2016 to support his work on Zika virus in Mexico (though unexpected circumstances required him to decline the prize).

Young’s doctoral work focused on structure-based vaccinology for arthropod-borne viruses and immune monitoring projects. Supervised by Prof Arturo Reyes-Sandoval, Prof Juha Huiskonen and Prof Thomas Bowden, Young’s studies enabled him to combine basic, clinical and translational studies in various arboviral endemic countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Zambia in resource-limited settings.


His doctoral thesis was driven by two specific aims. First, it considered the immunogens against arboviruses such as Zika, dengue, Chikungunya and Mayaro virus, assessing them as vaccine candidates, serodiagnostic tools and for immune monitoring in Phase 1 trials of ChAdOx1 Chikungunya vaccine and Zika vaccine in Oxford. Secondly, Cryo-EM was used to study structure of virus-like particles to provide insight into the host cell entry mechanism, and to evaluate them as vaccine candidates.

Young will now continue to work with the University of Oxford in Prof Arturo Reyes-Sandoval’s lab as a Postdoctoral Scientist. Of his fantastic achievement, Young commented, ‘It is still hard to believe that I have received this prestigious prize. I wish to continue making a positive contribution to the Somerville community in the future.’

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