I am a Scientist. Specifically I work in structural biology. This means that I apply biochemical and biophysical techniques to study the structures of protein molecules. The proteins that I study are embedded within the cell membranes and are therefore known as membrane proteins. In order to solve their structures I apply both X-ray crystallography and electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM). These techniques require purified samples of protein and most of my time is spent figuring out how to purify sufficient amounts of these proteins for the structural work.
Currently I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria, in Klosterneuberg (near Vienna) in the lab of Dr. Leonid Sazanov. Here I am working on two main projects: 1) the characterization of mammalian mitochondrial complex I of the electron transport chain and 2) the characterization of respiratory supercomplexes.
When I started my postdoc it was as a MRC Career Development Fellow at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, UK. There I was studying the structure and function of the Nicotinamide Nucleotide Transhydrogenase (NNT), an important mitochondrial protein complex that sits at the interface of anabolism, catabolism and the proton motive force. However, I quickly changed projects and the lab moved to Austria.
In September 2013 I defended my PhD in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at The Rockefeller University in New York. My PhD adviser was Rod MacKinnon, so we normally just call it the MacKinnon Lab. I worked on the biophysics of ion channels; specifically, my project was to structurally and functionally characterize the voltage-gated ion channel Hv. I will definitely be writing lots about Hv so I won’t say too much more about it here.
Watch me defend my thesis! Check out this recording of the public lecture portion of my thesis defense. Introduction by Rod MacKinnon.
I am from the west coast of Canada. I was born in Surrey B.C. and grew up in Kamloops and Victoria. I did my undergrad at the University of Victoria where I got my first taste of research. As a work/study student in Dr. Stephen Evans’ Lab, I studied the structure of the human ABO(H) blood group glycosyltransferases. These enzymes are responsible for catalyzing the addition of the final carbohydrate moiety to the H-antigen.
Functional reconstitution of purified human Hv1 H(+) channels.
Seok-Yong Lee*, James A Letts*, Roderick MacKinnon
Journal Article: Journal of Molecular Biology. 03/2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.02.034
Dimeric subunit stoichiometry of the human voltage-dependent proton channel Hv1.
Seok-Yong Lee, James A Letts, Roderick MacKinnon
Journal Article: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 07/2008; 105(22):7692-5. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803277105