Areas of Expertise
- Virology and Infectious Diseases
- Host-Pathogen Interactions and Pathogenesis
- Interspecies Transmission
- Vaccine Development
- Poultry Respiratory and Intestinal Microbiome
Research Focus: Dr. Lee has established a focused research program in the field of pathobiology and control of zoonotic and animal pathogens including influenza viruses. Dr. Lee leads a collaboration of scientists in 14 institutions to develop knowledge-based integrated approaches to control and prevent endemic, emerging and re-emerging poultry respiratory diseases in the US (visit PRDCAP.com). In addition to coordinating all the basic and applied researches within the project, he is defining the baseline bacterial communities of the respiratory tracts of commercial turkeys, broilers, and layers for the first time to better predict and prevent diseases in poultry. Dr. Lee also leads collaborative projects on developing universal flu vaccine, which involves extensive comparative vaccine efficacy studies in different animal models. His team developed new vaccines and vaccine formulations, evaluating the immune response and protective efficacy of an inactivated vaccine, recombinant and conserved epitope-based vaccines, and live attenuated influenza vaccine in combination with different adjuvants, delivery systems, and vaccination approaches in mouse, chicken and pig models. Dr. Lee has been working on inter- and intraspecies transmission study of influenza viruses in wild and domestic birds, swine, dogs, and cats. The team established the swine-turkey interspecies transmission model; identified important molecular markers that have to do with pathogenicity and interspecies transmission potential; identified potential risk factors, such as health status and age involved in influenza virus infection in dogs and cats; and demonstrated for the first time the presence of low pathogenic influenza virus in eggs laid by infected turkeys.
Dr. Lee collaborates with Dr. Kichoon Lee (Animal Sciences) to develop transgenic quail for infectious disease study. The team developed a poultry-specific CRISPR/Cas9 system for efficient targeted genome editing. Using the system, the team is generating TLR3 knockout quail cell lines and quail progeny. In combination with in vitro and in vivo infection studies, this study will provide direct evidence regarding the role of TLR3 in influenza pathogenesis in poultry. The study will be expanded to target other immune or disease resistance genes and applied to different bacterial and viral diseases. Dr. Lee also works on enteric diseases which cause significant financial losses to the turkey and broiler industries. His team has been conducting surveillance of enteric viruses in commercial flocks, characterizing the enteric virus isolates, and assessing age related susceptibility to enteric viruses, which all provide essential information to poultry industries.