Welcome Esak (Isaac) Lee

Esak (Isaac) Lee
Esak (Isaac) Lee

Esak (Isaac) Lee joined the Meinig School as an assistant professor in July 2019. He was appointed a Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences.

Dr. Lee comes to Cornell from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, where he worked with Christopher S. Chen as a postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering, tissue engineering, and organs-on-chip technology. Dr. Lee’s postdoctoral research focused on three-dimensional (3D) tissue engineered organ-on-chip models to study lymphatic biology and cancer biology. Using lymphatics-on-chip to recapitulate native lymphatic vessel structure and function, Dr. Lee revealed a new therapeutic target to treat lymphedema. Lymphedema affects 150 million individuals worldwide, but has no clinically available drug for treatment. Another cancer-on-chip effort by Dr. Lee led to the discovery of novel tumor-vascular interactions in pancreatic cancer and lung cancer, suggesting new strategies to halt tumor metastasis.

Prior to the Wyss Institute, Dr. Lee received his B.S. (chemical engineering) and M.S. (pharmacy) from Seoul National University, and Ph.D. in bioengineering from Johns Hopkins University. He studied the roles of lymphatic and blood vessels in breast tumor growth and metastasis using cell biology/biochemistry methods and mouse models under the mentorship of Aleksander S. Popel. 

At Cornell, the Lee laboratory will create and nurture a diverse community dedicated to discovery, scholarship, and leadership to improve human health and wellness by taking principles from engineering, biology, and medicine. To achieve the mission, Dr. Lee’s independent research program will focus on the morphogenesis, homeostasis and disease pathogenesis of lymphatic vessels and blood vessels and their microenvironments and provide new strategies for regenerative medicine and treatment of cancer, immune diseases, and edema. The laboratory is working to develop novel 3D organ-on-chip systems, cellular and molecular tools, and in vivo models to better understand the mechanisms by which cells regulate and respond to biological and mechanical cues.

Learn more about Dr. Lee’s research: leelab.bme.cornell.edu

Esak Isaac Lee research images
A) Lymphatics-on-chip recapitulates lymphatic drainage. C16 fatty acid (red) drainage by lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC)-generated lymphatic vessels and blood endothelial cell (BEC)-generated blood vessels. Scale bars 100 µm. 

B) Lymphatics-on-chip reveals a potential drug to normalize lymphatic drainage in lymphedema, which is validated in a mouse model. Scale bars 5 mm.

C) 3D biomimetic pancreatic cancer-on-chip shows tumor migration and interaction with blood vessels. This model reveals blood vessel ablation, a new mechanism for tumor vascular invasion. Green: metastatic pancreatic cancer cells (PD7591), Red: blood endothelial cells (HUVECs).