Sean-Bong-LeeSean Bong Lee, PhD

Tulane University School of Medicine
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Role of Ewing sarcoma gene (EWS) in adipogenesis and energy metabolism


Dr. Lee received his B.S. in biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1989. He carried out his doctoral studies on characterizing interferon-induced double-stranded RNA activated kinase (PKR) with Dr. Mariano Esteban at the State University of New York, Health Science Center at Brooklyn, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1994. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Haber at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston to carry out his postdoctoral studies on dissecting the functions of Wilms Tumor Suppressor gene, WT1, and EWS-WT1, an oncogene created by a chromosomal translocation in Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT). Dr. Lee joined the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the NIH as a tenure-track investigator in 2001. In 2012, he joined the Tulane University School of Medicine as an Associate professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Lee serves as an academic editor for PLOS ONE, as well as an associate editorial board member for the American Journal of Cancer Research.

Ongoing research projects related to diabetes and obesity

Brown fat is a specialized tissue that oxidizes lipids and glucose to produce heat in a process termed non-shivering thermogenesis. The mechanisms by which brown fat is generated and activated are therefore a great interest in obesity and metabolism research. We have recently demonstrated that a multifunctional protein, RNA/ssDNA-binding protein EWS (Ewing sarcoma) is essential for determination of classic brown fat lineage during development. Our laboratory is now focused on (1) characterizing the role of EWS in inducible brown fat cell (beige or brite cells) recruitment in white adipose tissue and (2) studying the effects of EWS inactivation on glucose and insulin sensitivity and energy homeostasis. We use transgenic mouse and knockouts as well as cell cultures in vitro to address the role of EWS in adipogenesis and metabolism. The high metabolic capacity (i.e. high energy expenditure) of brown and beige adipocytes provides an attractive therapeutic potential for the activation and recruitment of brown and beige cells to counteract obesity and related metabolic diseases.

Lab members

Jun Hong Park, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Hong Jun Kang, PhD, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Other Links

Tulane Cancer Center


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