Lee Lab

Primary Focus

John Lee, MD

John Lee, MD, FACS, and his team at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls focus on head and neck cancers caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). The lab’s primary purpose is to understand how HPV causes the cancers to grow and then translate these findings into clinical trials for patients. 

Two current areas of interest in the lab are: 

  1. How HPV genes alter cell growth allowing invasive growth and immune evasion. 
  2. How HPV related cancers use the body’s immune response during therapy to provide long-term cures for our patients.
John Lee, MD
  • Physician scientist in the Cancer Biology Research Center
  • Full professor for the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Department of Surgery
  • Bachelor of Science in biology at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • Medical degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, 
  • Postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and the University of Iowa, Iowa City

Behind the research

Dr. Lee’s lab has developed a cell culture and pre-clinical animal model, and has initiated human clinical trials to accomplish their goals.

The team has been studying the link between HPV and the development of head and neck cancers. The lab is conducting a clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of novel drug immune therapies on patients receiving treatment for head and neck cancer. The trial will evaluate how new drugs can affect and help the body clear cancers using a person’s immune system. Learn more here.


Resources Lab Projects

Access Dr. John Lee's publications here.

Meet members of the Lee lab here.

Read press releases here.

  • Immune modulation in combination with standard cisplatin radiation treatment
  • Predicting quality of life using pre-clinical models of head and neck cancer
  • HPV oncogene mechanism of immune evasion.
Contact Us  
Phone: (605) 328-8200  
Email: john.lee@sanfordhealth.org