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Virginia Man-Yee Lee (born 1945) is a Chinese-born American neuropathologist who specializes in the research of Alzheimer's disease. She is the John H. Ware 3rd Professor in Alzheimer's Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research and Co-director of the Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Drug Discovery Program. She was awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
Life and career
Lee was born in 1945 in Chongqing, Republic of China, and moved to Hong Kong with her family at age five. She received a Chinese education before moving to a high school with English as its language of instruction.
Lee studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1962–1964), and then obtained an MS in Biochemistry from the University of London in 1968 and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California at San Francisco in 1973. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rudolf Magnus Institute of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands (1973–1974) and at Children's Hospital Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston (1974–1979).
She then was appointed Associate Senior Research Investigator at Smith-Kline & French, Inc. in Philadelphia from 1979-1980. In 1981. She joined the faculty of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, attaining the rank of Professor in 1989. She also received an MBA in 1984 from the Executive MBA program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Lee’s research focuses on proteins that form pathological inclusions in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and related neurodegenerative disorders. Her work demonstrated that tau, alpha-synuclein and TDP-43 proteins form unique inclusions in neurodegenerative diseases and that aggregation of these proteins is a common mechanistic theme in AD, PD, FTLD, ALS and related disorders. Significantly, Dr. Lee’s studies implicated the abnormal aggregation of tau, alpha-synuclein and TDP-43 in mechanisms that compromise neuronal viability. Major accomplishments include discovery of tau, alpha-synuclein and TDP-43 as the diseases proteins in AD, PD and ALS/FTD, respectively, elucidating the roles of these proteins in neurodegeneration, pursuing pathological tau as a target for AD and FTD drug discovery, and how the transmission of pathological tau and alpha-synuclein explains the progression of AD and PD. Most importantly, this research has opened up new avenues of research to identify targets for drug discovery to develop better treatments for these disorders. Because of the broad impact of her research, Dr. Lee’s h-index is 150 and she is listed among the 10 most highly cited AD researchers from 1985-2008 (JAD, 16:451-465, 2009) as well as among the top 400 most highly influential biomedical researchers from 1996-2011 (Eur J Clin Invest, 43:1339-1365, 2014). ISI has recognized Dr. Lee as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher which places her in the top 10 most highly cited neuroscientists from 1997 to 2007
- "Virginia Man-Yee Lee". Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
- "Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: 1780–2017" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
- Mukhopadhyay, Rajendrani (August 2013). "Virginia Lee: notes on a career". ASBMB Today. Retrieved 2019-09-08.
- http://archive.sciencewatch.com/ana/st/alz2/authors/. Missing or empty
- "The John Scott Award Recipients". Eugene Garfield at University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 28 September 2018.