Robin E. C. Lee, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
  • Department of Computational and Systems Biology

Education & Training

  • Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, 2010
  • B.Sc. in Physics - Mathematics, University of Ottawa, 2003

Research Interest Summary

Our research combines principles of systems, synthetic biology and engineering to understand how information flows through molecular circuits in single cells.

Research Categories

Research Interests

To decide between irreversible cell fates such as growth, differentiation or death, each cell processes information about its environment through a network of molecular circuits referred to as 'signaling pathways'. The output of these signaling pathways often converge on gene transcription, encoding proteins that alter the cell's biochemical state. Our research combines principles of systems, synthetic and computational biology to understand how information flows through these signaling pathways. By observing input-output relationships in the same cell using microfluidics, live-cell dynamics and single-molecule microscopy, we aim to decode the signaling ‘language’ and develop mathematical models of information flow with single-cell resolution. 
We are particularly interested in the response of human cancer cells to inflammatory cytokines that control pro-survival and pro-death signals. These pathways play pivotal roles in tumorigenesis and cancer therapy, and we aim to determine how cell-to-cell variability in the abundance and dynamics of key signaling proteins affect their response to these cytokines. By combining methods that use single cells as the readout, heterogeneity can be leveraged to reveal underlying mechanisms of signal transduction and understand the biological impact of cell-to-cell variability observed in human cancer. Our ultimate goal is to understand how population-level responses emerge from single-cell heterogeneity and to rationally manipulate cell fate decisions in cancer and other diseases.

Representative Publications

Fold Change of Nuclear NF-κB Determines TNF-Induced Transcription in Single Cells
REC Lee, SR Walker, K Savery, DA Frank, S Gaudet
Molecular cell 53 (6), 867-879, 2014

Cell-to-cell variability in cell death: can systems biology help us make sense of it all?
X Xia, MS Owen, REC Lee, S Gaudet
Cell death & disease 5, e1261-e1261, 2014

Monitoring the Proteostasis Function of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Metacaspase Yca1
A Shrestha, REC Lee, LA Megeney
Caspases, Paracaspases, and Metacaspases, 223-235, 2014

A novel whole-cell lysate kinase assay identifies substrates of the p38 MAPK in differentiating myoblasts
JDR Knight, R Tian, REC Lee, F Wang, A Beauvais, H Zou, LA Megeney, AC Gingras, T Pawson, D Figeys, R Kothary
Skeletal Muscle 2 (5), 2013

Metacaspase Yca1 is required for clearance of insoluble protein aggregates
REC Lee, S Brunette, LG Puente, LA Megeney
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107 (30), 13348-13353, 2010

Reconstructing regulatory kinase pathways from phosphopeptide data: a bioinformatics approach
LG Puente, REC Lee, LA Megeney
Phospho-Proteomics, 311-319, 2009

A non-death role of the yeast metacaspase: Yca1p alters cell cycle dynamics
REC Lee, LG Puente, M Kærn, LA Megeney
PLoS One 3 (8), e2956, 2008

Reconstructing the regulatory kinase pathways of myogenesis from phosphopeptide data
LG Puente, S Voisin, REC Lee, LA Megeney
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 5 (12), 2244-2251, 2006

The yeast kinome displays scale free topology with functional hub clusters
REC Lee, LA Megeney
BMC bioinformatics 6 (1), 271, 2005