Dr Lee is a cancer epigeneticist recently recruited back from overseas to continue his research in Australia at QIMR Berghofer. He was also appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor at University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology.
Dr Lee completed his BSc (Molecular Pathology) at UNSW in 1999, and his doctoral studies at USyd studying the in vivo role of growth factors in breast cancer. Postdoctoral training at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, Boston, allowed him to study the transcriptional role of cyclin D1 and estrogen receptor in breast cancer as part of a NIH program grant headed by Professor Bob Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute, MIT.
As a senior research scientist at Seoul National University, Korea, Dr Lee has gained extensive experience within the field of cancer epigenetics and transcriptional regulation. He has expertise in an array of epigenetic and molecular techniques including genome-wide analysis (RNA-seq and ChIP-seq). These techniques and expertise in epigenetics allowed him to focus on epigenetic regulation of tumour suppressors and oncogenes in breast cancer metastasis.
Dr Lee has published several papers in high impact international journals including Molecular Cell (4) , PNAS (2), AJHG (3), Nature Genetics, Immunity and Cell Reports. Dr Lee has two patents which are active at present and he is collaborating with pharmaceutical enterprises to develop novel therapeutics for several cancer types.
- Control of Gene Expression.
- Professor Frank Gannon, CEO and Director of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.
- Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Science, Queensland University of Technology.
- Honorary Associate Professor, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, 2013-2015.
- Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Sejong University, Korea, 2012.
- Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, Korea, 2010-2012.
- Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Chromatin Dynamics Research Centre, Seoul National University, Korea, 2006-2009.
- Research Associate, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, USA, 2003-2006.
Current Area of Research
- Molecular epigenetics.
- Chromatin dynamics.
- Regulation of gene expression.
- Hypoxic signalling.
- Cancer metastasis.
- Targeting epigenetic modifying enzymes in aggressive cancers.
- Determining the efficacy of targeting epigenetic modifiers in breast cancer.
- Histone methyltransferases as novel therapeutic targets for melanoma.
- Identification of non-histone methylation where Dr Lee has discovered two transcription factors that are methylated by the histone modifiers and thereby impact tumour progression in vivo. In 2010, he published the first non-histone methylation by G9a in a tumour hypoxia setting (Lee Molecular Cell 2010). This paper was selected as a cover article and attracted much attention from the hypoxia field as it demonstrated the impact tumour hypoxia has on epigenetic enzymes. Another transcriptional regulator that was modified by histone methyltransferase was identified in the following year which conferred oncogenic function in breast cancer progression (Lee PNAS 2011). This work contributed to the addition of another layer of the role histone methyltranferases play in regulating transcription.
- Dr Lee has discovered for the first time a mechanism for methylation-dependent proteindegradation (coined the term ‘Methyl-Degron’). This work was chosen as a special cover issue (Lee Molecular Cell 2012).
- Collaboration with research groups outside of Dr Lee’s field (Prof. Mark Smyth) applying the analysis method he developed has yielded in a publication examining NK T-cell function (Martinet Cell Reports 2015).
- Collaboration with Immunology group (Dr Michelle Wykes) in the analysis of gene expression in dendritic cells in a mouse model of malaria yielded in a recent publication in Immunity 2016.
Overall, Dr Lee has made contribution to the field of epigenetics, cancer biology and tumour hypoxia through studies that provide new insights and utilising innovative cutting edge-epigenetic analysis.
- Australia New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) member.
- Australian Epigenetics Alliance, Queensland Delegate.
- Australian Skin and Skin Cancer Centre member.
- Academy of Scientists and Engineers in Australasia (KASEA) executive member.
- Korean Society of Molecular and Cellular Biology Award, 2015.
- QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Travel Award, ‘Hypoxia-mediated epigenetic changes in breast cancer’ Sensing and Signaling of Hypoxia: Interfaces with Biology and Medicine, Keystone Symposia, 2014.
- Queensland Emory Development (QED) Alliance Travel Award, Queensland Emory Development (QED) Alliance, 2013. ‘Epigenetic changes in cancer’.
- Baker Company Travelling Award, Baker Company Inc., 2013. ‘Tumour hypoxia: a mediator of metastasis’.
- Fellowship – QIMR Berghofer International Research Fellowship, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute 2013 ‘Epigenetic modifications in breast cancer’.
- Ruskinn Postdoctoral International Travel Award, Ruskinn, UK, 2010. ‘Hypoxia signalling and epigenetic regulation’.
- Best Poster Award, ASN Epigenetics International Meeting, Melbourne, Australia, 2009.
- PhD Molecular Medicine.