Chancellor’s Professor & Chair
Department of Biological Chemistry
University of California, Irvine
The body’s circadian rhythm or “internal clock” regulates multiple physiological processes. Several studies have shown that alterations of the circadian clock have profound effects on hormone levels and can lead to increased risk for cancers including breast cancer. Dr. Lee’s group has found that the circadian gene, PER2, inhibits cancer cell invasiveness and that lack of PER2 is associated with poor survival in breast cancer patients. They are currently studying how disruptions in the circadian clock due to genetic alterations affect circulating hormone levels and breast cancer development in a laboratory model of BRCA1-associated breast cancer.
Eva YHP Lee is the Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
In the late 1980’s, Dr. Lee reported the inactivation of the prototypic tumor suppressor gene, the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene (RB), in breast cancer. Subsequently, she and her team investigate how cells repair DNA breaks and identified new players that slow down the cell cycle while DNA damages are being repaired.
Her laboratory has established several breast cancer models to address the breast-specific function of the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA1. They found that BRCA1 plays a role regulating the levels of progesterone receptors (PR). Her team has investigated the mechanisms involved and addressed whether anti-progesterone could be used to delay mammary tumors using the model systems. In addition, Dr. Lee and her team are exploring the link between the circadian system, BRCA1 and the regulation of female hormones.