Lance Lee, PhD, Lab
Primary Research Focus
Our research program is devoted to understanding how motile cilia function and how dysfunction results in pediatric disease. By identifying and understanding the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms, we hope to advance the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.
Behind the Research
Motile cilia extend from the surface of specialized cells in the respiratory system, the reproductive system, the brain and the early embryo. These cilia play a critical role in clearance of fluid and particles over the surface of the cells, and the structurally related sperm flagella are required for sperm motility.
Dysfunction of cilia and flagella typically results in the pediatric syndrome primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), which affects approximately one in 16,000 live births. Affected individuals commonly suffer from chronic respiratory infections, chronic otitis media and male infertility, with situs inversus, hydrocephalus and female infertility also associated in some patients. While the importance of cilia and flagella in human health is clear, the molecular mechanisms underlying ciliary function are still under investigation.
In our laboratory, we use both traditional and emerging genetic approaches to elucidate the underlying causes of PCD and its associated disorders by identifying genes required for proper ciliary formation and function. We are also seeking to better understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate ciliary motility by applying cutting-edge biochemical and cell biological techniques to ciliated cells and disease models. As there is currently no cure for PCD, the goal of our research is to enable advancement of disease diagnosis and treatment and ultimately improve childhood health.