The major research theme of Dr. Lee's laboratory is plasticity and application of mesenchymal stem cells. Being an orthopaedic surgeon as well as a stem cell scientist, Dr Lee is particularly interested in developing new application of mesenchymal stem cells to treat orthopaedic problems. The research interests also include osteoporosis, bone cell biology, and biophysical effects on bone cells and stem cells, and bone tumor biology.
The lab has successfully isolated mesenchymal stem cells from human term umbilical cord blood and this work has been published in Blood on March 1, 2004 and it has been chosen as Cover Feature of that issue. So far, this article has been cited for more than 317 times. In addition, his research team has demonstrated the differentiation potential of mesenchymal stem cells into hepatocytes in vitro and this has been published in Hepatology in December, 2004. So far this article has been cited for approximately 205 times.
The team has worked on an animal model of in utero transplantation of human mesenchymal stem cells into mice to investigate in their vivo differentiation potentials. It has been demonstrated by us that human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are able to differentiate into progenies originated from all three germ layers in vivo. This work leads to the winning of New Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society in 2004. Importantly, the team also investigated the growth and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells on Type 1 collagen nanofibers. This work has been published in Stem Cells in November 2006 and again it was chosen as Cover Feature of that issue.
Thereafter we have looked into the possibility of incorporating gene therapy with stem cells to further enhance bone formation and found that concomitant overexpression of Cbfb and Cbfa-1 can efficiently enhance osteogenic differentiation of MSCs. The results of which have been published in Stem Cells in 2007. Changes of mitochondrial biogenesis during osteogenic differentiation were also studied in human MSCs. The results showed that coordinated regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and antioxidant enzymes occurs synergistically during osteogenic differentiation of human MSCs and have been accepted by Stem Cells in 2008.
To follow up on our previous study published in 2004, we investigated the therapeutic potential of MSCs for treatment of liver disease using a mouse model of fulminant hepatic failure and found that MSCs effectively rescued fulminant liver failure in a pre-clinical mouse model. This work has been published in Gastroenterology in Jun 2008 and was the editorial highlight of the issue. Recently, Dr Lee and his graduate students reported the existence of stem cells in anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments of the human knee joint, as well as in human parathyroid glands. Both manuscripts have been published by Cell Proliferation in 2009. The modulation of proliferation and differentiation of these anterior cruciate ligament derived stem cells by different growth factors was also further studied and the results of which have been published in Tissue Engineering in 2009.
Dr. Lee is the winner of Wu Ta-Yu Memorial Award from the National Science Council in Taiwan in 2006 and was awarded as The Outstanding Young Persons of Taiwan in the medical research category in 2008. Besides, he has been listed amongst the 2006-2007 International Who's who. He was also invited as the discussion leader of Gordon Conference in 2008.