Faculty Profile

Sung Kyun Park

Sung Kyun Park, ScD, MPH

  • Associate Professor, Epidemiology
  • Associate Chair, Epidemiology
  • Director of Masters Studies, Epidemiology
  • Associate Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan, Medical School

Dr. Park's research interests include the role of environmental exposures in cardiometabolic and reproductive health and age-related diseases with a focus on environmental exposure assessment, epidemiologic causal inference, and the development of analytic approaches for assessing chemical mixtures. He is the PI of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Multi-Pollutant Study (SWAN-MPS) where health effects of various sets of chemicals and their mixtures in midlife women are tested. He is also a Co-PI of the Study of the Environment and Alzheimer's Disease and related Dementias (SEAD) where the environment's role in the development of Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias is investigated. His lab also has an interest in gene-environment and nutrition (diet)-environment interactions to elucidate potential biological mechanisms, to identify vulnerable sub-populations to environmental exposure, and to provide intervention strategies.

  • ScD, Environmental Epidemiology, Harvard University, 2005
  • MPH, Environmental Health, Seoul National University, 2000
  • BS, Food Science and Technology, Seoul National University, 1998

Research Interests:
Environmental epidemiology, multi-pollutants and pollutant mixtures, exposome, with a focus on cardiometabolic and age-related diseases and women's health.

Research Projects:
The Study of the Environment and Alzheimer's Disease and related Dementias (SEAD) (R01 AG070897): The goal of this project is to understand the environment's role in the development of Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias (ADRD). Specifically, we aim to (1) conduct a biologic hypothesis-based approach to test the associations of chronic exposure to lead and cadmium with incident ADRD; (2) conduct a data-driven environment-wide association study to systematically evaluate a wide-range of environmental toxicants with incident ADRD; and (3) develop and validate an exposome-based risk prediction model for ADRD using machine learning methods (Multi-PIs with Dr. Kelly Bakulski).

Multi-pollutants and Metabolic Disease (R01 ES026578): Some evidence suggests that environmental pollutants may play a role in the etiology of type-2 diabetes. Dr. Park has recently developed research projects that 1) test whether suspected environmental pollutants, such as air pollution, arsenic, lead and bisphenol-A (BPA), are associated with the risk of diabetes in MESA, NAS, NHANES, and the Amish Family Diabetes Study; and 2) evaluate a wide-range of environmental pollutants (~120 chemicals) systematically in SWAN (Study of Women's Health Across the Nation) (R01 grant funded through NIEHS).

Multi-pollutants and Reproductive Aging (R01 ES026964): The goal of this project is to examine how endocrine disrupting chemicals, individually or as mixtures, affect the timing and characteristics of reproductive aging, in SWAN.

Heavy Metals and Aging Outcomes: The goal of this project was to understand how long-term exposures to heavy metals and air pollution affect age-related diseases including hearing loss, eye disease, and cardiovascular function (funded by K01 ES016587, 2009-2013). Dr. Park has focused on hearing loss and eye diseases because their economic burdens and public health implications become very important as the population ages. These outcomes have been understudied in relation to environmental exposures.

Gene-Environment and Nutrition (Diet)-Environment Interactions: Gene-environment interaction is a useful tool to elucidate potential biological mechanisms that influence susceptibility in human populations. For example, the hemochromatosis gene (HFE) and vitamin D receptor (VDR) play an important role in regulating cellular iron and calcium levels. Because lead is a divalent metal, its cellular uptakes depend on iron and calcium levels. Therefore, HFE and VDR genetic variants may also affect the cellular levels of lead and eventually influence disease risks. Nutrition and diet also play a critical role in toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of environmental pollutants because of shared exposure routes and biological pathways. This body of work also seeks to evaluate which subpopulations, in terms of genetic polymorphisms, may be more susceptible to toxic effects of environmental pollutants.

Statistical Approaches to Evaluating Multi-pollutants: Examining various environmental pollutants has led him to ask a more fundamental question: we are exposed to multi-pollutants and pollutant mixtures in real life, but what is the risk from multi-pollutants and pollutant mixtures? Although the importance of multi-pollutant concepts is well recognized, most epidemiologic studies are still based on individual pollutants and little is known about statistical approaches to examine multi-pollutants and to integrate risks from multi-pollutants. Recently, Dr. Park has developed an Environmental Risk Score (ERS) and proposed it as a new tool to examine the risk of exposure to multi-pollutants in epidemiologic research. He also evaluated statistical methods for constructing health risk models with multi-pollutants and their interactions.

Park SK, Wang X, Ding N, Karvonen-Gutierrez CA, Calafat AM, Herman WH, Mukherjee B, Harlow SD. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Incident Diabetes in Midlife Women: the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Diabetologia 2022;65(7):1157-1168. PMID: 35399113. PMCID: PMC9177697. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-022-05695-5 

Park SK, Sack C, Sirn MJ, Hu H. Environmental cadmium and mortality from influenza and pneumonia in U.S. adults. Environ Health Perspect 2020;128:127004. PMID: 33325772. PMCID:PMC7739956. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP7598 

Wang X, Karvonen-Gutierrez CA, Herman WH, Mukherjee B, Harlow SD, Park SK. Urinary metals and incident diabetes in midlife women: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care 2020;8(1):e001233. PMID: 32747380. PMCID:PMC7398092.

Bakulski KM, Seo YA, Hickman RC, Brandt D, Vadari HS, Hu H, Park SK. Heavy metals exposure and Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. J Alzheimers Dis 2020;76(4):1215-1242. PMID: 32651318. PMCID:PMC7454042. https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad200282 

Ding N, Harlow SD, Randolph JF, Calafat AM, Mukherjee B, Batterman S, Gold EB, Park SK. Associations of Perfluoroalkyl Substances with Incident Natural Menopause: the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. J Clin Endocrinol Metabol 2020;105(9):e3169-e3182. PMID: 32491182. PMCID:PMC7418447. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/105/9/e3169/5848088 

Park SK, Zhao Z, Mukherjee B. Construction of environmental risk score beyond standard linear models using machine learning methods: Application to metal mixtures, oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease in NHANES. Environ Health 2017;16(1):102. PMID: 28950902. PMCID: PMC5615812. https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-017-0310-9 

View full list of publications at Google Scholar. https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=dZEe2moAAAAJandhl=en 

Email: sungkyun@umich.edu 
Office: 734-936-1719
Address: M5541 SPH II
1415 Washington Heights,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

For media inquiries: sph.media@umich.edu