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Kyung-Mi Lee, Ph.D
Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry
Korea University College of Medicine
Tel : 920-6271
FAX : 923-0480
e-mail : kyunglee@korea.ac.kr
Kyung-Mi Lee, an associate professor in the department of Biochemistry, has relocated to Korea University in 2003 from University of Chicago, USA. She graduated Seoul National University and received her BA and MA, then moved to University of Chicago for her Ph.D. In the Ph.D. program, she studied the field of Cell Biology and Biochemistry with major interest in cell signaling involving calcium and non-receptor tyrosine kinases. Following her Ph.D., she moved to Harvard University to do her postdoctoral training. After spending 2 years of postdoc working on Angiogenesis and Mechanochemical signal transduction, she returned to University of Chicago and switched her field to Immunology. Since then, she has been working on the various aspects and modes of immune responses; from the gene transcription to the animal experiments, the area she covers spans from the molecules to the animals..

Lee’s major interest is to modulate immune responses toward a wanted direction. Her major interest is tumor immunology and transplantation immunology. With her expertise on cellular signaling of T cells and NK cells, she now expands that into more clinical settings. In the tumor patients, the immune function of T and NK cells is severely impaired. The mechanism underlying poor immunity exhibited by tumor patients is only now beginning to understand. Thus, she is trying to overcome immune suppression via various mechanisms, including adoptive cell therapy. For this project, she collaborates with SNU medical school and Green Cross Incorporation.

Her other interest lies in transplantation immunology. In contrast to tumor patients, patients undergoing organ transplantation operates their immune system to the maximal level to reject foreign organs. If we could investigate the suppressive functions that tumor patients have and apply that into the transplanting patients, we can achieve long term graft survival and induce tolerance to the transplanted graft. In this setting, we are particularly interested in the role of NK cells in the process of rejection.

Success of Lee’s research depend on the complete understanding of the immune responses in the body. Thus, her research team is working hard to elucidate the molecular mechanism of the two opposite mode of immune function; suppression and activation. Applying these results obtained from the bench to the pre-clinical and clinical setting is her long term research goal.