Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology and the College
Heng-Chi Lee’s research interests center on understanding how small non-coding RNA regulates gene expression and promotes genome stability. His previous work demonstrated a critical role of small RNAs in silencing foreign nucleic acids such as transposons. He further showed that small RNAs can trigger gene silencing that can be stably transmitted for multiple generations through epigenetic mechanisms. Lee is currently investigating how this small RNA-based defense system works and whether a defect in such a system is the underlying mechanism behind certain cancers and infertility diseases.
His research findings have been published in Nature, Cell, Molecular Cell, and PLOS Biology, and his discovery in Craig Mello’s laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School was selected “Best of 2012” by Cell. He is the recipient of the Nominata Award, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Postdoctoral Fellows, and the National Institutes of Health’s Pathway to Independence Award.
Lee received his bachelor’s degree in life science from National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan and his PhD in genetics and development from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where he uncovered an unexpected linkage between small non-coding RNA pathways and the DNA damage response. Previously, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.