FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Richard Heck, (740) 593-0896
New OMNI Professor Focuses on How Brain, Cells Change
as We Age
(ATHENS, Ohio – May 30,
For S. Lee Hong, Ph.D., research is a chance to address one question
we all will face: How do you stay healthy and independent as long as
possible, despite age and chronic disease?
Aging and neurological changes over long spans of time form the core
of his work. He studies both humans and animals, collecting large
sets of data that he crunches, searching for patterns in how our
cells change and die over a lifetime. His recent work includes
research on the risk of falling as we age and how movement impacts
chronic conditions such as mental illness.
“It’s one of those problems that everybody goes through, that none
of us escape,” Dr. Hong said. “A lot of it is figuring out how we
can keep people healthy and independent for a longer period of time.
Really that’s the priority.”
Dr. Hong will join the
Ohio Musculoskeletal & Neurological
Institute (OMNI) at the Ohio
University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) on
July 1. He’ll serve as an associate professor of physiology in the
Department of Biomedical Sciences, but his main focus will be
continuing his research and complementing the work of
OMNI’s six principal investigators.
Dr. Hong isn’t a typical new hire, said Brian Clark, Ph.D.,
associate professor of physiology and director of OMNI. Thanks to
the historic $105 million gift from the Osteopathic Heritage
Foundation that the medical school received in April 2011, Dr. Clark
and the OMNI faculty were able to focus on a strategic hire who
could complement existing research strengths, rather than simply
hiring someone to fulfill departmental teaching requirements, Clark
Dr. Hong’s ability to do advanced mathematical analysis of complex
data, and his research focus on the areas of brain and behavior, fit
well within OMNI’s core group of scientists, Dr. Clark said.
“Lee brings in a great skill set of expertise,” Dr. Clark said.
“He’s an outside the box thinker. He’s had demonstrated success at
securing federal funding to support research and demonstrated
scholarly activity and achievements.”
The $26.5 million earmarked for OMNI from the Osteopathic Heritage
Foundations gift will help fund a new 40,000 square foot facility
and support OMNI research. OMNI’s goal is to bring together
physicians, engineers, neuroscientists, physiologists,
psychologists, and allied health researchers to study a range of
problems and disorders related to the musculoskeletal and nervous
Dr. Hong is the first researcher to join OMNI as part of this growth
initiative, with two more faculty hires planned in 2018.
Dr. Clark says Dr. Hong’s work relates to three of OMNI’s five
primary research areas:
Low back pain
and chronic pain disorders
physiology and rehabilitation medicine
Hong’s holds a Ph.D. In Kinesiology with a concentration in motor
control from Pennsylvania State University. He’s applied his work
with aging and movement to an impressive list of research. Some of
his publications and presentations, including co-authored articles,
have appeared in significant journals including:
control in bipolar disorder: Increased sway area and decreased
dynamical complexity” and “Noise and complexity in human
postural control: Interpreting the different estimations of
entropy,” both published in PLoS One.
tapping abnormalities in bipolar disorder indicate timing
dysfunction,” which appeared in Bipolar Disorders.
frequency limits of bilateral coordination patterns,” and
“Coupling and irregularity in the aging motor system: Tremor and
movement,” both published in Neuroscience Letters.
the dynamics of contralateral motor overflow through increasing
frequency of movement in a single limb” and “Practice effects on
local and global dynamics of the ski-simulator task,” which
appeared in Experimental Brain Research.
He’s also the principal investigator on two grant programs:
A grant from
the National Institutes of Health/National
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin to study the
neuromechanics of fall-risk in aging.
A grant from
the National Institute on Aging to examine the role of motor
variability in attenuating the effects of aging through
environmental enrichment in mice.
Dr. Hong will remain the principal investigator on the animal models
of aging, continuing his work at Ohio University; however, he will
step down to co-investigator on the other project. This fall, he’ll
serve as co-investigator on a federally funded study on the use of
video games for physical activity.
Part of what drew Dr. Hong to OMNI is the way faculty members work
together, building on each other’s work. He’s particularly excited
about OMNI’s research on the brain and movement, and the ability to
work with Ohio University’s Edison BioTechnology Institute’s
“It’s a new opportunity to be in a very focused group of faculty who
are very interested in similar things but who have very different
skill sets than I do,” Dr. Hong said. “I bring something new and
everybody there brings something new to me.”