Dr. Okhyun Lee

Email: O.H.Lee@exeter.ac.uk

Current Research

My current research focuses on developing biosensor transgenic fish to determine the tissues targets, effect pathways, and the potential for health impacts of environmental androgens and anti-androgens. My research would help to understand the physiological effects of androgenic and anti-androgenic chemicals in vivo models. This work is funded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The work I have been doing over the past years has been in techniques to produce transgenic fish, so I extended my expertise in this area to work under the guidance of Dr. Tetsuhiro Kudoh and Prof. Charles R Tyler in this exciting project. I am particularly interested in transgenic fish as biosensors for environmental chemicals.

Previous research

I worked as a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Exeter and my project objectives were to develop accurately sensitive transgenic zebrafish to low doses of aquatic oestrogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and to study target tissues and tissue specificity of the main known oestrogenic EDCs in the live organism. In an attempt to improve the response sensitivity to oestrogen compared with other available transgenic fish, we adopted the use of a Gal4-UAS system and developed three oestrogen responsive transgenic zebrafish lines (ERE-TG fish). Our ERE-TG fish could detect oestrogenic EDCs including at environmentally relevant exposure concentrations. Exposure of ERE-TG fish to oestrogenic chemicals induced specific patterns of GFP expression in a variety of tissues including the liver, heart, skeletal, muscle, ear, forebrain, lateral line and ganglions. Different oestrogenic chemicals induced different tissue patterns of GFP expression. This system could be used in the testing of mixtures effect developmental process and fish health in STW effluents and drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. During my Ph. D. I have acquired many new skills, such as in embryology, molecular methods (e.g. making a plasmid), microinjection, in situ hybridisation, southern blotting and western blotting, and double staining fluorescent microscopy, including confocal microscopy. Additionally, I have benefited from the open exchange in knowledge in our research group such as in molecular mechanisms of neural induction and patterning in zebrafish embryos.

Media Coverage of my work My work has been reported repeatedly in the press (Sciencedaily, BBC, ITV westcountry, Times, National Geographic, Independent, The Sun, etc.)

Current funding: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


1. Lee O, Takesono A, Tada M, Tyler CR, Kudoh T. Biosensor Zebrafish Provide New Insights into Potential Health Effects of Environmental Estrogens. Environ Health Perspect 2012, 2012 Jul;120(7):990-6.

2. Lee O, Tyler CR, Kudoh T. Development of a transient expression assay for detecting environmental oestrogens in zebrafish and medaka embryos. BMC Biotechnol. 2012 Jun 24;12:32.

3. YH Keum, JH Jee, OH Lee, SI Park, JC Kang. 2005. In vivo effects of bisphenol A exposure on haematological parameters in Korean rockfish, Sebastes schlegeli. Journal of Korean Fish Pathology. 18:293-301.

4. OH Lee, EY Min, YH Keum, MY Choi, HJ Park, JC Kang. 2005. The effects of growth rate, levels of hormones and enzymes in gold fish, Carassius auratus by Polychloniated biphenyls (PCBs) exposure. Korean Society of Environmental Biology. 12: 100-107. (Papers 3 and 4 were written for Korean journals.)


University of Exeter, Biological Sciences, UK Doctor of Philosophy (2007-2011) Thesis: Development of ERE-Transgenic Zebrafish for Studying Health Effects of Environmental Oestrogens.

Pukyong national University, Department of Aquatic life medicine, South Korea Master of Science (2004 –2006) Dissertation: Reproductive effects of long-term exposure to PCBs in gold fish, Carassius auratus .

Mokpo national University, Division of Biotechnology & Resources, Major in Marine Resources, South Korea, Bachelor of Science, teaching qualification degree (2000 –2004)

Employment History

Fisheries Hatchery Research Institute (2004 June-August): Research assistant

2007 – 2010 Demonstrating. General supervision of students during laboratory practicals for a variety of subjects as well as helping setting up some practicals and some marking of practical reports.

2000 – 2004 Teaching qualification for Science in secondary school (Korean equivalent to PGCE)

Contact details

Office number/Building name Biosciences, Geoffrey Pope Building, Lab 201