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Emily M. Lee, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist, Functional Group Lead

Division of Preclinical Innovation

Early Translation Branch

Contact Info

Emily M. Lee, Ph.D.


Emily Lee is a staff scientist and functional group lead in the Early Translation Branch (ETB) within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation (DPI), where she leads the Advanced Models & Cell Discovery Assay group within the Antiviral Program for Pandemics (APP). Additionally, Lee is a senior staff scientist in NCATS’ 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Laboratory. She uses her diverse background in virology, high-throughput screening, and induced pluripotent stem cells and primary cells to investigate, evaluate and implement new assay technologies to develop cost-effective physiologically relevant assays, including 3-D organotypic models, for drug discovery and development in the context of viral infections.

Prior to joining the ETB as a biologist, Lee was a postdoctoral fellow in DPI’s Therapeutic Development Branch, where she developed high-throughput assays for antiviral screening and for rare genetic diseases.

Lee earned her doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the Florida State University, where she worked with Hengli Tang, Ph.D., to study host-pathogen interactions and to identify potential antiviral compounds with a focus on positive-sense RNA viruses belonging to the Flaviviridae family.

Research Topics

Lee’s research focuses on developing and characterizing physiologically relevant cell-based and tissue-engineered platforms for viral disease modeling and antiviral drug discovery. She and her team engage in fast-paced and highly collaborative projects and currently are engaged in projects pertaining to high-impact BSL-2 and BSL-3 viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2 research. Lee’s team works closely with members of the APP teams and the 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Program, as well as with academic, government and industry partners.

Selected Publications

  1. Modeling SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza Infections and Antiviral Treatments in Human Lung Epithelial Tissue Equivalents
  2. Functional Brain Region-Specific Neural Spheroids for Modeling Neurological Diseases and Therapeutics Screening
  3. Development of Human-Derived, Three-Dimensional Respiratory Epithelial Tissue Constructs with Perfusable Microvasculature on a High-Throughput Microfluidics Screening Platform
  4. Pharmacological Activation of STING Blocks SARS-CoV-2 Infection
  5. Identification of Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Zika Virus Infection and Induced Neural Cell Death via a Drug Repurposing Screen