Raphael Lee, the Paul and Allene Russell Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, holds appointments in Surgery (Plastic), Medicine (Dermatology), Molecular Medicine, and Organismal Biology and Anatomy (Biomechanics). Lee is a surgeon and biomedical engineer. His professional research interests have focused on the effects of physical forces on tissue injury and healing processes, pharmaceutical control of scar formation, and reconstructive surgery.
He completed doctoral studies in the Harvard-MIT program in biomedical engineering. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Chicago and plastic surgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard University). He is cofounder of the first multidisciplinary clinical research program for treatment of survivors of electrical shock injury (Chicago Electrical Trauma Research Institute).
In 2004, Lee initiated a new graduate course to integrate basic engineering system science into the teaching of cellular biology at the University of Chicago. It develops more systematic insight into molecular healing and tissue stress responses using basic principles of biophysics and biochemistry. Lee’s research has resulted in new therapeutics, which translated into establishment of three biotechnology companies.
Lee received the American College of Surgeons Schering Scholar Award in 1978, became a MacArthur Fellow in 1981 and a Searle Scholar in 1985, and was elected to both the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering. He has been elected to fellowship in: American Association of Plastic Surgeons, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, AIMBE, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Selected awards for mention are the James Barrett Brown Award from the American Association of Plastic Surgeons for "advancing knowledge in the field of Plastic Surgery." In 1997, Lee was awarded the American Electrical Power Association Award for “Advancing Electrical Safety and Health."
Biophysical dynamics of cell injury and modes of molecular repair. Design principles and applications of block copolymers to mimic the behavior of small molecular weight natural cellular molecular chaperones for applications such as trauma therapeutics. Dr. Lee's laboratory demonstrated the capability of amphiphilic block copolymers to seal disrupted cell membranes and subsequently, their capability to block aggregation of denatured proteins with similar biocompatible compounds. His current work is focused on molecular dynamic simulations to optimize design and tissue level studies to optimize tissue preservation.