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Benhur Lee, MD Email Benhur Lee

    • Position
    • PROFESSOR | Microbiology
    • Language
    • English

Professor Benhur Lee is a virologist with wide-ranging research interests who joined the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2014. He holds the Ward-Coleman Chair in Microbiology. Prior to his recruitment to Mount Sinai, Dr. Lee spent 12 years as a member of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics as well as the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). He joined UCLA in 2001 as an Assistant Professor, and was promoted on an accelerated schedule twice: to Associate Professor in 2007, and to full Professor in 2011.  Dr. Lee graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 1995 with an M.D. and induction into the National Medical Honor Society (Alpha Omega Alpha), and did his clinical and post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (1995-2001) where he also served as Chief Resident (1997).  He worked on HIV fusion and entry during his post-doctoral years under Dr. Robert Doms (1997-2001). 

 Dr. Lee is board-certified in Clinical Pathology and was an attending physician on the Transfusion Medicine Service at UCLA. He was also a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute and the Center for AIDS Research. At UCLA, Dr. Lee was a member of the MD/PhD (MSTP) admissions committee, and served as the Affinity Group Leader and Graduate Advisor for students interested in Virology and Gene Therapy. He was Vice-Chair (Clinical and Translational efforts) of the training committee overseeing an NIH T32 training program in Virology & Gene Therapy, and was a standing member on the Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee at UCLA.  Dr. Lee hopes to leverage his prior academic experience and contribute to Mount Sinai in equally substantive ways.  

 The Lee Lab has a special interest in emerging viruses, with a focus on molecular viral-host interactions at the level enveloped virus entry and budding mechanisms. We currently use HIV and henipaviruses (a emerging genus of lethal paramyxoviruses) as our primary model systems.   Dr. Lee believes in multidisciplinary approaches to science and has had graduate students and post-docs whose primary expertise ranges across fields such as biomathematics, biophysics, biochemistry, cell biology, and molecular virology. In addition, he also has active projects translating insights gained from basic studies on host-pathogen interactions into broad-spectrum anti-viral therapeutics, and has long-standing collaborations with colleagues in medical chemistry. The Lee Lab has access to BSL4 (UTMB-Galveston) facilities for high-containment work on lethal pathogens.

 Currently, the Lee lab has two post-docs trained and certified to work at BSL4 containment facilities.  Dr. Lee’s latest foray into translation science involves developing a highly efficient and robust reverse genetics system for paramyxoviruses, so as to facilitate development of live attenuated paramyxovirus based vectors and vaccines.  In addition, he has research contracts for generating targeted lentiviral vectors for crossing the blood-brain-barrier; once again, using insights gained from basic studies into virus entry and tropism. 

Research Topics

AIDS/HIV, Antivirals, Biodefense, Cell Biology, Dendritic Cells, Drug Design and Discovery, Endothelial Cells, Gene Therapy, Glycobiology, Hematopoiesis, Immune Antagonism, Infectious Disease, Interferon, Interferon Antagonists, Interferon Resistance, Lymphocytes, Macrophage, Membranes, Nipah Virus, Nucleus, Protein Trafficking & Sorting, Retrovirus, Stem Cells, Systems Biology, Trafficking, Vaccine Development, Viruses and Virology

Multi-Disciplinary Training Areas

Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cells [DRS], Immunology [IMM], Microbiology [MIC], Pharmacology and Therapeutics Discovery [PTD]


BSc (Magna cum laude), Santa Clara University

MD, Yale University School of Medicine

Residency, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

NA, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania