Chemistry and Biochemistry

Jiyong Lee

Jiyong Lee

Title: Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Building: RBS 3007


  • M.S. Chemistry, Yonsei University, 2001
  • Ph.D Biological Chemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 2009


Jiyong Lee received his PhD degree in Biological Chemistry from UT Southwestern Medical Center. During his PhD dissertation research in Chemical Biology, he contributed to the advancement of Chromophore-Assisted Light Inactivation (CALI) of proteins by employing peptoid-based targeting agents and a photo-stable inorganic photosensitizer, Ru(bpy)3 complex (Nature Chemical Biology, 2010, 6(4), 258-260). He also developed a novel peptoid microarray-based cell-binding screen by which he discovered an antagonist as well as a positive potentiator of orexin receptor, a GPCR whose function is associated with sleep disorder and diabetes (Chemical Science, 2010, 1(1), 48-54).


He then continued his training in Chemical Biology as a postdoctoral research associate at The Scripps Research Institute. At Scripps, he developed a split-FlAsH-based sensor molecule to monitor the real-time formation of amyloid beta oligomers as well as fibrils, and provided a strong evidence to support that amyloid beta forms fibrils by nucleated conformational conversion of soluble amyloid beta oligomers (Nature Chemical Biology, 2011, 7, 602-609).


Prior to his current position at UT Tyler, he was an assistant professor at UT Dallas. At UT Dallas, his lab developed the first synthetic molecule that selectively binds to cancer stem cell (CSC), a small population of cancer cells that is known to cause cancer relapse (Chemistry-A European Journal, 2018, 24 (15), 3694-3698). The synthetic binder of CSC is expected to provide very important tool in developing therapeutic strategy for CSC to block cancer recurrence. His lab also developed a small molecule that targets triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a subtype of breast cancer that is responsible for 15 – 20% of breast cancer (ACS Combinatorial Science, 2018, 20 (6), 330-334). Currently, there is no effective targeted therapy for TNBC. The efficacy of his TNBC-targeting small molecule was validated in vitro and in vivo, providing novel therapeutic lead compound targeting TNBC. In addition, his lab developed the first small molecule inhibitor of forkhead box protein C2 (FOXC2) (ChemBioChem, 2018, 19, 1-7). The function of FOXC2 is known to be necessary for the mesenchymal-epithelial transition (EMT), a cellular event which makes a primary tumor initiate metastatic events.

At UT Tyler, he is conducting research on discovering novel chemical probes and therapeutic candidates targeting cancer metastasis and recurrence. His lab will 1) optimize the structures of the hit compounds to increase affinity and potency, 2) apply the chemical probes his lab develops to elucidate the mechanisms of CSC, EMT, TNBC, and tumor dormancy, 3) develop novel diagnostic/imaging agents to detect key events in caner metastasis and recurrence and 4) develop novel small molecule-based or nanoparticle-based therapeutic agents targeting cancer metastasis and recurrence.

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