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Research Communications

Postdoc profile: Shinhee Lee examines mechanisms behind cancer metastasis 

Note: In honor of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, Sept. 17-21, we're spotlighting postdoctoral fellows on the Ohio University campus. A postdoctoral scholar ("postdoc") is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.

By Andrea Gibson
Sept. 19, 2012

In her 18 months as a postdoctoral researcher at the Edison Biotechnology Institute, Shinhee Lee already has racked up a number of accomplishments. She's designed a series of studies on the mechanics of cancer metastasis, as well as new approaches to radiotherapy. She's been a co-author on two published journal articles and recently helped submit a proposal for funding to the National Institutes of Health.

 shinhee_lee
Shinhee Lee

Lee, whose husband is an assistant professor at Ohio University, decide to pursue the postdoctoral position with Shiyong Wu because she felt he would be a great mentor who could foster the growth of her research skills better than anyone else. Wu, recently appointed as the director of the Edison Biotechnology Institute, is a biochemist who studies the mechanisms of skin cancer.

"I ultimately would like to develop myself as a translational scientist to improve the health outcomes of people suffering from cancer," she said.

Lee's goal is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms triggered by ionizing radiation, with a primary focus on cell adhesion molecules, which are implicated in cancer metastasis, she explained. The work could lead to the development of targeted therapies for both advanced and early stages of cancer.

"What I have enjoyed most so far is the independent research environment under the minimal, but essential, guidance of my mentor," she said.

In addition to research, Lee has gained experience with mentoring graduate students and seeking collaborations with scientists at major research institutions.

Lee says that postdoctoral positions can benefit the institution, in turn, by allowing faculty members to focus on bigger picture tasks such as seeking new funding opportunities and partnerships, as well as pursuing more in-depth research questions.