Faculty Spotlight: Bum-Kyu Lee

A portrait of BK Lee.

Bum-Kyu Lee joined the UAlbany Department of Biomedical Sciences in 2020 and received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. At the University of Texas, Lee gained expertise in molecular biology and genetics, with a primary interest in understanding how transcription factors and cis-regulatory elements influence final gene expression. He continued as a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas until 2020. During his postdoctoral training, he shifted his research interests to stem-cell biology. In his research, he used embryonic stem cells as a model system to understand how transcription factors are involved in self-regeneration and embryonic development. 

Lee is part of the NIH-funded ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, a public research consortium to identify all functional elements in human and mouse genomes. As a result of the program, a large repository of transcription factor-binding data has been created, as well as numerous informative publications— one of which found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affect gene expression and transcription factor binding in different ethnic groups. As part of the project, Lee developed genome-scale binding profiles for the sequence-specific transcription factor (CTCF) in multiple human cell lines using chromatin immunoprecipitation and next-generation sequencing (ChIP seq). 

Lee is eager to continue genome-wide studies at the University at Albany. Based on his current research interests in stem cell biology, Lee anticipates collaborating with faculty members at the Cancer Research Center— housed within the School of Public Health— in the near future. 

Lee stated that, "There are many interesting questions," yet to be answered using trophoblast systems and that there is not much activity in the community. Future research projects seek to identify key transcription factors and regulators involved in placental development using trophoblast stem cells as a model system. The Lee lab is also interested in identifying transcription factors that directly influence cell type conversion, as well as understanding the mechanisms that underpin transcription factor-mediated cell type conversions.