Faculty Profile

Young Ah  Seo, PhD

Young Ah Seo, PhD

  • Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences
  • 3850 SPH I
  • 1415 Washington Heights
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2029

Dr. Seo is a nutritional biochemist whose research focuses on the understanding the roles of iron and manganese in health and disease. Using cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches, Dr. Seo’s current research program seeks to study the mechanisms regulating metal homeostasis, and to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for treating disorders of metal imbalance. One of the hallmarks of Dr. Seo’s research program is to take a truly translational approach from basic biochemical, molecular and cellular biology, to animal studies, and ultimately to human population. The importance of her work in this area has been recognized with a 2019 E.L.R Stokstad Outstanding Young Investigator Award given for excellent fundamental research in nutrition from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Dr. Seo received a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Departments of Genetics & Complex Diseases and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and received a PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Seo received prestigious awards including K99/R00 “Pathway to Independence” award from National Institute of Health (NIH), Grand Prize of the Postdoctoral Research Award Competition from ASN, Grand Prize of the Graduate Student Research Award Competition from ASN, and Robert Gunn Student Awards for Cell and Molecular Physiology from American Society for Physiology (APS) acknowledging her doctoral and postdoctoral research.

  • Research associate, Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 2016
  • Postdoctoral research fellows, Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 2014
  • Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, 2012
  • B.S., Food and Nutritional Sciences, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea, 2004

Iron and manganese are essential nutrient required for human growth and development. Disturbances of iron and manganese metabolism, caused by dietary, environmental, or genetic factors, can have detrimental impacts on human health. Iron deficiency, for example, is the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting an estimated 2 billion individuals, mainly young children and women. In contrast, having too much iron (i.e., iron overload) is increasingly being recognized a public health concern. Hemochromatosis is a frequent genetic disorder characterized by the accumulation of excess iron across tissues. Untreated hemochromatosis can be fatal due to organ failures. As many as 1 in 200 Americans are at genetic risk for developing hemochromatosis. While manganese deficiency can result in distinct neurodevelopmental conditions, manganese toxicity can lead to brain manganese accumulation and a parkinsonian-like disorder. 

Despite the prevalence and adverse health effects associated with iron and manganese related disorders, our understanding of how iron and manganese are regulated at the molecular level is limited. Therefore, the Seo lab focuses on identifying and characterizing the roles of iron and manganese in related disorders at the molecular, cellular, and physiologic levels. This research will ultimately help to identify therapeutic targets for treating disorders related to iron and manganese metabolism.

Seo’s research program appreciates our current and past research funding. 
  • 2020 – 2025    NIH / NIDDK R01 (PI: Seo)           
  • 2020 – 2021    NIH / NINDS R21 (PI: Seo) 
  • 2018 – 2022    NIH / NHLBI  R01 (Co-I: Seo)         
  • 2018 – 2021    Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation (NBIA) Disorders Association, “Early-Career Faculty Investigator Grant Award” (PI: Seo)       
  • 2018 – 2020    University of Michigan Center for Gastrointestinal Research Center / NIH (PI of Pilot Grant: Seo)
  • 2020 – 2021    Michigan Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease (M-LEEaD) / NIH (PI of Pilot Grant: Seo) 
  • 2019 – 2020    University of Michigan Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) “Pathway to Independence” Award (PI: Seo) 
  • 2014 – 2019    NIH / NIEHS K99/R00 “Pathway to Independence” Award (PI: Seo)

  • Bakulski KM, Seo YA, Hickman RC, Brandt D, Vadari HS, Hu H, and Park SK. (2020) Heavy metals exposure and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 76(4):1215-1242. PMCID: PMC7454042 Co-first author 
  • Yarosz EL, Ye C, Kumar A, Black C, Choi EK, Seo YA†, Chang CH† (2020) Cutting Edge: Activation-Induced Iron Flux Controls CD4 T Cell Proliferation by Promoting Proper IL-2R Signaling and Mitochondrial Function. Journal of Immunology 1;204(7):1708-1713. PMCID: PMC7329364 †Co-corresponding author
  • Choi EK, Aring L, Das NK, Solanki S, Inohara N, Iwase S, Samuelson LC, Shah YM, Seo YA† (2020) Impact of dietary manganese in experimental colitis in mice. FASEB Journal 34(2):2929-2943. 
  • Choi EK, Nguyen TT, Iwase S, Seo YA† (2019) Ferroportin disease mutations influence manganese accumulation and cytotoxicity. FASEB Journal 33(2):2228-2240. PMCID: PMC6338638
  • Choi EK, Nguyen TT, Gupta N, Iwase S, Seo YA† (2018) Functional analysis of SLC39A8 mutations and their implications for manganese deficiency and mitochondrial disorders. Scientific Reports 16;8(1):3163. PMCID: PMC5816659
  • Grillo AS, SantaMaria AM, Kafina MD, Cioffi AG, Huston NC, Han M, Seo YA, Yien YY, Nardone C, Menon AV, Fan J, Svoboda DC, Anderson JB, Hong JD, Nicolau BG, Subedi K, Gewirth AA, Wessling-Resnick M, Kim J, Paw BH, and Burke MD (2017) Restored iron transport by a small molecule promotes absorption and hemoglobinization in animals. Science 356(6338):608-616. PMCID: PMC5470741
  • Seo YA, Kumara R, Wetli H, Wessling-Resnick M. (2016) Regulation of divalent metal transporter-1 by serine phosphorylation. Biochemical Journal 473(22):4243-4254. PMCID: PMC510387
  • Seo YA†, Elkhader JA, and Wessling-Resnick M. (2016) Manganese and other metals distribution in flatiron mice. Biometals 29(1):147-55. PMCID: PMC4735247
  • Seo YA and Wessling-Resnic M. (2015) Ferroportin deficiency impairs manganese metabolism in flatiron mice. FASEB Journal 29(7):2726-33. PMCID: PMC4478796 
  • Seo YA, Lee S, Hennigar SR, and Kelleher SL. (2014) Prolactin-stimulated ubiquitination of ZnT2 mediates a transient increase in Zn secretion followed by ZnT2 degradation in mammary epithelial cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 289(34):23653-61. PMCID: PMC4156067 
  • Seo YA, Li Y, Wessling-Resnick M. (2013) Iron depletion increases manganese uptake and potentiates apoptosis through ER stress. Neurotoxicology 38C:67-73. PMCID: PMC3770814 
  • Lasry I, Seo YA, Ityel H, Shalva N, Pode-Shakked B, Glaser F, Berman B, Berezovsky I, Goncearenco A, Klar A, Levy J, Anikster Y, Kelleher SL, Assaraf YG. (2012) A dominant negative heterozygous G87R mutation in the zinc transporter, ZnT-2 (SLC30A2), results in transient neonatal zinc deficiency. Journal of Biological Chemistry 287(35):29348-61. PMCID: PMC3436150 Co-first authors.
  • Seo YA, Lopez V, Kelleher SL. (2011) A histidine-rich motif mediates mitochondrial localization of ZnT2 to modulate mitochondrial function. American Journal of Physiology Cell Physiology 300: C1479-89. PMCID: PMC3118624  
  • Seo YA, Kelleher SL. (2010) Functional analysis of two single nucleotide polymorphisms in SLC30A2 (ZnT2): implications for mammary gland function and breast disease in women. Physiological Genomics 42A: 219-27. PMCID: PMC3008367 
Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography

  • Licensed Dietitian, Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea
  • American Society for Nutrition
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology