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Junseok Son, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Secondary Appointment(s):



655 West Baltimore St. BRB 11-009

Phone (Primary):

410-706-3031; Son Lab:

Education and Training

  • 2012 - BS, Kinesiology, Korea National Sport University, Seoul, South Korea
  • 2016 - MS, Exercise Physiology, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
  • 2020 - PhD, Nutrigenomics and Growth Biology, Washington State University, Pullman
  • 2021 - Postdoc, Bioinformatics & Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman


I received my Ph.D. in Nutrigenomics and Growth Biology from Washington State University Pullman, WA in 2020. I spent a year at the Washington State University as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate. I joined the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2021 in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences as an Assistant Professor. I also have a secondary appointment in the Department of Physiology as an Assistant Professor.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Exercise Physiology, Obesity, Epigenetics, Fetal/Perinatal Physiology, Placental development, Adipocytes/myocytes, Stem (progenitor) cell differentiation

Highlighted Publications

Jun Seok Son, Xiangdong Liu, Qiyu Tian, Liang Zhao, Yanting Chen, Yun Hu, Song Ah Chae, Jeanene M. de Avila, Mei-Jun Zhu and Min Du, “Exercise prevents the adverse effects of maternal obesity on placental vascularization and fetal growth” Journal of Physiology-London 2019, 597(13), 3333-3347.

Jun Seok Son, Liang Zhao, Yanting Chen, Ke Chen, Song Ah Chae, Jeanene M. de Avila, Hongyang Wang, Mei-Jun Zhu, Zhihua Jiang and Min Du, “Maternal exercise via exerkine apelin enhances brown adipogenesis and prevents metabolic dysfunction in offspring mice” Science Advances 2020, 6(16), eaaz0359. This paper was featured by NIH ( and received wide news coverage.

Jun Seok Son, Song Ah Chae, Hongyang Wang, Yanting Chen, Alejandro Bravo Iniguez, Jeanene M. de Avila, Zhihua Jiang, Mei-Jun Zhu and Min Du, “Maternal inactivity programs skeletal muscle dysfunction in offspring mice via attenuating apelin signaling and mitochondrial biogenesis” Cell Reports 2020, 33(9), 108461.

Jun Seok Son, Song Ah Chae, Liang Zhao, Hongyang Wang, Jeanene M. de Avila, Mei-Jun Zhu, Zhihua Jiang and Min Du, “Maternal exercise intergenerationally drives muscle-based thermogenesis via activation of apelin-AMPK signaling” eBioMedicine 202272, 103842.

Research Interests

Nutrigenomics & Perinatal Exercise Biology Laboratory

The population with obesity and type 2 diabetes are rapidly increasing. Currently, more than a third of women at reproductive age were obese and another one third are overweight in the US. Regular physical activity and exercise are critical for preventing and attenuating the adverse effects of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. While “Exercise is medicine” is well recognized, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms linking maternal exercise and fetal development during pregnancy remains poorly defined.

Exercise and physical activity induce muscle to secrete hormones, so called exerkines, which are beneficial for glucose homeostasis particularly in women with obesity and metabolic diseases. Similarly, maternal exercise stimulates secretion of exerkines from muscle and fat, which exert biological effects on placenta. As a key organ responsible for nutrient delivery and cross-talk between mothers and their fetuses, such change in placenta is expected to have profound impacts on fetal development and exert long-term effects on the metabolic health of future generation.

My research focuses on the impact of maternal exercise, obesity and other physiological environments on fetal development and offspring health, emphasizing the epigenetic modification linking nutrients/metabolites to stem (progenitor) cell differentiation into myocytes/adipocytes. Ultimately, we aim to translate our work into clinical practice with respect to improving health outcomes for mothers and children affected by obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

Our laboratory welcomes inquiries about Ph.D. and Postdoc training opportunities. If you are interested, please contact: Dr. Jun Seok Son at

In the News

Published Multimedia

  1. Mums-to-be who exercise may be more likely to have slimmer kids BBC Science Focus Magazine, Apr 16, 2019.
  2. Science Update: Mouse study links exercise during pregnancy to lower risk of obesity in offspring NIH News, NICHD - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ( Apr 23, 2020