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Research Highlights

SNU Professor Leads Innovative Research on Lung Cancer

  • August 31, 2016
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Professor LEE Ho Young at the center and her lab members
Professor LEE Ho Young at the center and her lab members

Professor LEE Ho Young (SNU College of Pharmacy) was recently selected to receive funding from the Research Leader Support Program, a project administered by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. The program, which aims to support the development of creative researchers into world-class research leaders in the natural science and technology sector, provides financial support for a maximum of nine years. Within the medicine, pharmacy and dentistry field, Professor Lee is the first female researcher to receive funding through the program in its 20 years of history.

Professor Lee’s research focuses on the causes of lung cancer. Although the main causes are known to be smoking, fine dust, stress and aging, the exact process of how these factors may lead to lung cancer has not been established yet. However, in her recent study, Professor Lee was able to discover a clue to how smoking is linked to lung cancer.

“Previously, smoking was thought to cause lung cancer through genetic variation,” explained the professor, “but my research indicates that regardless of gene variation, smoking activates the signaling mechanism of certain genes, which accelerates cancer cell growth.” The researcher was also able to prove that medication which interferes with this signaling mechanism helps prevent lung cancer. She expressed hopes that her findings will improve prevention of lung cancer.

Lung cancer has a low survival rate compared to other cancers, as it is difficult to detect its symptoms before it reaches the final stage, and final-stage cancer is almost impossible to cure. Therefore, Professor Lee emphasizes the importance of prevention: “The risk of lung cancer is increasing due to current environmental factors such as air pollution and fine dust. After I identify the mechanism that causes lung cancer, I will concentrate on methods of prevention.”

Written by YOON Jiwon, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,

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