Esak Lee awarded NSF CAREER grant for lymphedema in breast cancer research

Esak Lee, assistant professor and Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences at the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation Early Career Development (NSF CAREER) Award from the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, and Transport Systems (CBET). The $600,000 award supports his research proposal on “Cancer-associated secondary lymphedema on-chip” for a five-year period from 2024 through 2029. 

Lymphedema, characterized by swelling due to impaired lymphatic drainage, affects over 150 million patients worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there is no FDA-approved treatment, and commonly used conservative therapies provide primarily palliative relief.  

In the U.S., breast cancer patients show a high incidence of lymphedema in their arms. Lee’s research studies the regulation of the lymphatic structure and function in breast cancer and to discover novel approaches to treating lymphedema linked to breast cancer through the establishment of a unique cell culture platform dedicated to studying lymphatic drainage in breast cancer. In conjunction with educational outreach, this CAREER project will contribute to the development of new therapies for lymphedema patients in the U.S. and will enhance scientific awareness of lymphatic disease and microphysiological systems.

The CAREER award is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

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