Principal Investigator


Esak (Isaac) Lee, Ph.D.

Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences; and Assistant Professor

Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, Cornell University

BME Faculty Profile



Dr. Isaac (Esak) Lee joined the Meinig School as an Assistant Professor in July 2019. Now he is a Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences, and an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Lee comes from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, where he worked with Professor Christopher S. Chen as a postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering, tissue engineering, and organs-on-chip technology. Dr. Lee’s postdoctoral study focused on developing three-dimensional (3D) tissue-engineered organ-on-chip models to better study lymphatic biology and cancer biology. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied the roles of lymphatic and blood vessels in breast tumor growth and metastasis using both cell biology/biochemistry methods and mouse models, under the mentorship of Professor Aleksander S. Popel. At Cornell, the Lee laboratory aims to create a nurturing community of diverse minds, all unified with the dedication to discovery, scholarship, and leadership. The lab seeks to combine the principles from engineering, biology, and medicine to develop novel, interdisciplinary ways to improve human health and wellness. To achieve this mission, Dr. Lee’s research program focuses on 1) understanding the morphogenesis, homeostasis and disease pathogenesis of lymphatic vessels, blood vessels and their microenvironments, and 2) identifying new strategies for regenerative medicine and treatment of cancer, immune diseases, and edema. The laboratory is currently focused on further advancing the novel 3D organ-on-chip systems, as well as developing both cellular and molecular tools and in vivo models, to better understand the mechanisms through which cells regulate their response to biological and mechanical cues.



Ph.D. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University (Advisor: Aleksander S. Popel), 2014

M.S. Pharmacy, Seoul National University (Advisor: Youngro Byun), Korea, 2008

B.S. (summa cum laude) Chemical Engineering, Seoul National University, 2006



Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences, Cornell University (September 5, 2019 – Present)

Assistant Professor, Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University (July 1, 2019 – Present)

Postdoctoral Associate, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University & Boston University, Advisor: Christopher S. Chen (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2019)


Honors & Awards

NSF Career Award, 2024

James and Mary Tien Excellence in Teaching Award (the highest award for teaching in the college), College of Engineering, Cornell University, 2023

Cellular & Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Young Innovator, Biomedical Engineering Society, 2023

NIH R01 CA279560 (PI: Esak Lee), 2023

Emerging Leaders in Biological Engineering, Journal of Biological Engineering, 2022

NIH R01 HL165135 (PI: Esak Lee), 2022

Microcirculatory Society (MCS) Award for Excellence in Lymphatic Research, 2021

Adam Rachel Broder Fund for Cancer Research, Cornell University, 2021

Multi-Investigator Seed Grant, Office of Academic Integration, Cornell University, 2020

Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigatorship selected by Provost, Cornell University, 2019

Young Investigator Conference Award, Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Lymphatics, Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), 2018

LE&RN Postdoctoral Fellowship, Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), 2016 – 2018

TL1 Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH (NHLBI), 2015 – 2016

MOGAM Science Scholarship, MOGAM Foundation, 2013

Runner-up Award, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2012



Introduction to Biomedical Engineering (ENGRI 1310, undergraduate course): Fall 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

Cancer and Immuno-Engineering (BME 6230, graduate course): Spring 2022, 2023

Biomedical Engineering Graduate Colloquium (BME 7900, graduate course): Fall/Spring 2021, 2022, 2023

Core Concepts in Disease (BME 7310, graduate course): Spring 2020