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Sang Jin Lee, PhD

Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Dr. Sang Jin Lee was born and raised in Korea. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University, Korea in 2003 and took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratories for Tissue Engineering and Cellular Therapeutics at Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital Boston and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine where he is currently a faculty member. 

SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: Designing 3-D microenvironment for tissue engineering applications (bone, cartilage, muscle, tendon, blood vessel, heart, & kidney); 3-D integrated organ printing (IOP) system for fabricating complex, composite tissues or organs; Interactions between biomaterials and cell/tissue; Drug/protein delivery system; Development of enabling technologies for regenerative medicine (e.g. bioreactor, bioimaging, etc.).

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Biomaterials have played an enormous role in virtually every application in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine that support engineered tissues and organs until repairing the function and structural maintenance. Dr. Lee’s research efforts have focused on the design of 3-D biomaterial scaffolding system for clinical translation. Dr. Lee’s current research projects are:

1. Smart biomaterial scaffolding systems that support the regenerative medicine and tissue engineering strategies. These smart scaffolding systems combined with drug/protein delivery system, nano/micro-scaled topographical feature, or hybrid materials that could actively participate in functional tissue regeneration.

Lee SJ, Liu J, Oh SH, Soker S, Atala A, Yoo JJ. Development of a composite vascular scaffolding system that withstands physiological vascular conditions. Biomaterials. 2008;29(19):2891-8.

Ladd MR, Lee SJ, Stitzel JD, Atala A, Yoo JJ. Co-electrospun dual scaffolding system with potential for muscle-tendon junction tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 2011;32(6):1549-59.

Lee SJ, Atala A. Scaffold technologies for controlling cell behavior in tissue engineering. Biomed Mater. 2013;8(1):010201.

Seol YJ, Kang HW, Lee SJ, Atala A, Yoo JJ. Bioprinting technology and its applications. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2014;46(3):342-8.

Merceron TK, Burt M, Seol Y-J, Kang H-W, Lee SJ, Yoo JJ, and Atala A, A3-D bioprinted complex structure for engineering muscle-tendon unit, Biofabrication, 2015;7:035003.


2. A noninvasive fluorescence-based imaging technology has been developed with a team of collaborators. Lee’s group used an invisible near-infrared (NIR) fluorophore having excellent optical properties and high physicochemical stability in serum and in the body, which enabled longitudinal monitoring of scaffold degradation and cell behaviors in vivo.

Kim SH, Lee JH, Hyun H, Ashitate Y, Park G, Robichaud K, Lunsford E, Lee SJ, Khang G, Choi HS. Near-infrared fluorescence imaging for noninvasive trafficking of scaffold degradation. Sci Rep. 2013;3:1198.

Whited BM, Hofmann MC, Lu P, Xu Y, Rylander CG, Wang G, Sapoznik E, Criswell T, Lee SJ, Soker S, Rylander MN. Dynamic, nondestructive imaging of a bioengineered vascular graft endothelium. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e61275.

Owens EA, Hyun H, Kim SH, Lee JH, Park G, Ashitate Y, Choi J, Hong GH, Alyabyev S, Lee SJ, Khang G, Henary M, Choi HS. Highly charged cyanine fluorophores for trafficking scaffold degradation. Biomed Mater. 2013;8(1):014109.


3. Stem cell-based tissue regeneration has the potential to effectively change the treatment of injured or damaged tissues/organs. Hence, current research focuses on the potential uses of these stem cells and tissue engineering strategies for translational applications.

Joo S, Ko IK, Atala A, Yoo JJ, Lee SJ. Amniotic fluid-derived stem cells in regenerative medicine research. Arch Pharm Res. 2012;35(2):271-80.

Rodrigues MT, Lee SJ, Gomes ME, Reis RL, Atala A, Yoo JJ. Amniotic fluid-derived stem cells as a cell source for bone tissue engineering. Tissue Eng Part A. 2012;18(23-24):2518-27.

Gonçalves AI, Rodrigues MT, Lee SJ, Atala A, Yoo JJ, Reis RL, Gomes ME. Understanding the role of growth factors in modulating stem cell tenogenesis. PLoS One. 2013;8(12):e83734.

Kim J, Jeong SY, Ju YM, Yoo JJ, Smith TL, Khang G, Lee SJ, Atala A. In vitro osteogenic differentiation of human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells on a poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA)-bladder submucosa matrix (BSM) composite scaffold for bone tissue engineering. Biomed Mater. 2013;8(1):014107.


4. In situ tissue regeneration that is to take advantage of the body’s own regenerating capacity by using the host's ability to mobilize endogenous stem cells to the site of injury. Lee’s group has focused on development of strategies for in situ tissue regeneration in terms of mechanism of host cell recruitment, cell sourcing, cellular and molecular roles in cell differentiation, navigational cues and niche signals, and a tissue-specific smart biomaterial system from the perspective of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

Lee SJ, Van Dyke M, Atala A, Yoo JJ. Host cell mobilization for in situ tissue regeneration. Rejuvenation Res. 2008;11(4):747-56.

Ko IK, Ju YM, Chen T, Atala A, Yoo JJ, Lee SJ. Combined systemic and local delivery of stem cell inducing/recruiting factors for in situ tissue regeneration. FASEB J. 2012;26(1):158-68.

Ko IK, Lee SJ, Atala A, Yoo JJ. In situ tissue regeneration through host stem cell recruitment. Exp Mol Med. 2013 Nov 15;45:e57.

Ju YM, Atala A, Yoo JJ, Lee SJ. In situ regeneration of skeletal muscle tissue through host cell recruitment. Acta Biomater. 2014;10(10):4332-9.


5. Increasing number of patients suffering from diseases of the vascular system has resulted in a greater demand for the development of functional vascular substitutes to meet the clinical needs. Small-diameter (<5 mm) vascular substitutes are especially needed for coronary artery bypass, peripheral revascularization, and arteriovenous (A-V) fistula. Key challenges associated with adequate functional outcome of vascular grafting remain unsolved. Currently, my lab is developing a functional vascular scaffolding system by combining autologous vascular cells with a natural and/or synthetic scaffold to create an implantable vascular construct. 

Lee SJ, Yoo JJ, Lim GJ, Atala A, Stitzel J. In vitro evaluation of electrospun nanofiber scaffolds for vascular graft application. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2007;83(4):999-1008.

Ju YM, Choi JS, Atala A, Yoo JJ, Lee SJ. Bilayered scaffold for engineering cellularized blood vessels. Biomaterials. 2010;31(15):4313-21.

Lee J, Yoo JJ, Atala A, Lee SJ. The effect of controlled release of PDGF-BB from heparin-conjugated electrospun PCL/gelatin scaffolds on cellular bioactivity and infiltration. Biomaterials. 2012;33(28):6709-20

Ahn H, Ju YM, Takahashi H, Williams DF, Yoo JJ, Lee SJ, Okano T, Atala A. Engineered small diameter vascular grafts by combining cell sheet engineering and electrospinning technology. Acta Biomater. 2015;16:14-22. 

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