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Alumni Spotlight on Dr. Irene Lee

The biggest piece of advice I could give a young scientist is to really be a sponge and try to learn as much as you can during your training. ”

Dr. Irene Lee

Dr. Irene Lee, PhD, is a CRS alumna, class of 2016. Her thesis research, mentored by Dr. Julie Kim, PhD, focused on the role of Akt on Progesterone Receptor function in endometrial cancer. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Lee's work and her memories of CRS.

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Name: Irene Lee, PhD

Thesis mentor: Dr. Julie Kim, PhD

Thesis title: “Akt regulates Progesterone Receptor B dependent transcription and angiogenesis in endometrial cancer cells.”  

What is your connection to the CRS community (mentor and position) and what is your current position? 

I joined the Driskill Graduate Program (DGP) in 2009 and joined the laboratory of Dr. Julie Kim for my thesis research shortly thereafter. During my time in Julie’s lab, I studied the role of Akt on Progesterone Receptor function in endometrial cancer. I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Myles Brown.  

Could you describe your current research/studies? 

I am currently studying mechanisms underlying endocrine therapeutic resistance in ovarian and prostate cancers. Ovarian cancer is not considered a classical hormone-dependent cancer; however, we are finding that Estrogen Receptor is transcriptionally active and regulates a distinct set of genes and pathways from what it typically regulates in breast cancer. In the prostate cancer project, we are investigating the role of the Androgen Receptor splice variant, ARv7, in mediating resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy. 

What aspect(s) of CRS did you find most valuable? 

I think the camaraderie and collaborative environment in the CRS was very valuable. Whether it was getting feedback on your project, being able to easily borrow a reagent, or learn a new protocol, the CRS was tremendously helpful in those regards.       

What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist in CRS? 

I think the CRS hosted many events throughout the year that were really great training opportunities. I remember being the chair of the annual minisymposium and it was a great learning experience for me in learning everything that’s involved in organizing an event like that. Additionally, the weekly R3 meetings were useful in practicing how to give a presentation and also provided an opportunity to receive feedback on your project.  

What would you recommend to junior scientists in order for them succeed in their scientific careers?​  

The biggest piece of advice I could give a young scientist is to really be a sponge and try to learn as much as you can during your training. Graduate school and postdoctoral training are really great times to just learn as much as you can and pursue your curiosities. Your time in training is often wrought with a lot of self-inflicted pressure and stress, and so I would also suggest that you take time for self-care and doing fun activities that can take your mind off of science.  

 What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field?  

I think there have been tremendous strides in recent years in infertility research and I think a breakthrough in the field of infertility will be the next big thing.  

Do you have any notable stories from your time in CRS? 

I remember having fun at the CRS holiday parties playing trivia on the ground floor of the Lurie building.