The general interest of our laboratory is to understand how protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation by kinases/phosphatases regulates specialized cell functions. The major questions that we wish to address include: how kinases are regulated, what their upstream and downstream targets are and how they interact with these targets, and how they are involved in diverse signaling pathways to drive and regulate cell proliferation, differentiation and programmed cell death or apoptosis. We will continue to address these questions by focusing on cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) in general and Cdk5 in particular. Cdk5 is very intriguing as mice lacking Cdk5 die before or immediately after birth, indicating that Cdk5 is essential for normal development and survival. Throughout our studies of Cdk5 for more than two decades, we have demonstrated that Cdk5 plays critical roles in a variety of cellular processes. Our broad research program also encompasses new areas of investigations on the role of Cdk5 and its related protein, Cdk5rap2, in cell aging, ROS regulation and mitochondrial function, DNA repair, stemness and in the diseased conditions such as primary microcephaly, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple myeloma, breast and brain cancers.
Feb 17, 2012 Finalist, Hadassah Ksienski Distinguished Service Award
1999-2011 Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Scholarship and Senior Scholarship.
Current: Principal Investigator: Lee, K. -Y.
2016-2021 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grant. Operating Grant. “Targeting Cdk5 for synthetic killing of breast cancer cells”
$ 970,000 (pending).
2013-2016 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Operating Grant. “Regulation of Breast Tumor Cell Proliferation by Neutrophil-Derived APRIL” $ 375,000.
2012-2017 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grant. Operating Grant. “Cdk5: Its Regulation and Function” $ 737,065.
2011-2016 NSERC. Operating Grant. "A Novel Role of Cyclin-dependent Kinase 5 in Cell Proliferation". $ 240,000.
As one of the pioneer in Cdk5 research, I have and has worked for over two decades investigating Cdk5 regulation and function through research support from CIHR, NSERC, CFI and CBCF among others. Our work utilizes innovative multidisciplinary approaches, including cell/molecular biology, protein biochemistry, molecular genetics, imaging and animal studies. We have established a range of skills and methods that facilitate the success of our studies.
1. Summer Students: Saveen Sidhoo and Jennifer Kim
2. Graduate Students: Wejdan Matook, M. Sc. Program; Alex Xidi Wang, Ph.D. program; Saranya Navaneethakrishnan, Ph.D. program
3. PDFs: Dr. JungKwon Lee and Dr. SungMyung Kang
4. Research Associate: Dr. Jeffery Bjorge
5. Research Assistant Professor: Dr. Jesusa Rosales
I have trained a total of 4 visiting scientists, 8 PDFs, 3 PhDs, 5 MScs, and many summer students. 10 of my former trainees are currently working as faculty members/research scientists in academic/research institutes; 18 are now MDs or dentists.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which Cdk5 and its related proteins regulate cell functions would meaningfully provide the groundwork for the use of Cdk5 or its related protein as therapeutic target for patients with diseases linked to these proteins and advance health research.