Robin E. C. Lee, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Computational and Systems Biology

Education & Training

  • Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, 2010
  • B.Sc. in Physics - Mathematics, University of Ottawa, 2003

Research Interest Summary

Our research combines principles of systems, synthetic biology and engineering to understand how information flows through molecular circuits in single cells.

Research Categories

Research Interests

To decide between irreversible cell fates such as growth, differentiation or death, each cell processes information about its environment through a network of molecular circuits referred to as 'signaling pathways'. The output of these signaling pathways often converge on gene transcription, encoding proteins that alter the cell's biochemical state. Our research combines principles of systems, synthetic and computational biology to understand how information flows through these signaling pathways. By observing input-output relationships in the same cell using microfluidics, live-cell dynamics and single-molecule microscopy, we aim to decode the signaling ‘language’ and develop mathematical models of information flow with single-cell resolution. 
We are particularly interested in the response of human cancer cells to inflammatory cytokines that control pro-survival and pro-death signals. These pathways play pivotal roles in tumorigenesis and cancer therapy, and we aim to determine how cell-to-cell variability in the abundance and dynamics of key signaling proteins affect their response to these cytokines. By combining methods that use single cells as the readout, heterogeneity can be leveraged to reveal underlying mechanisms of signal transduction and understand the biological impact of cell-to-cell variability observed in human cancer. Our ultimate goal is to understand how population-level responses emerge from single-cell heterogeneity and to rationally manipulate cell fate decisions in cancer and other diseases.

Representative Publications

Parallel Tempering with Lasso for Model Reduction in Systems Biology
S Gupta, REC Lee*, JR Faeder*
PLoS Computational Biology (* co-corresponding)

A system for analog control of cell culture dynamics to reveal capabilities of signaling networks
CS Mokashi, DL Schippper, MA Qasaimeh, REC Lee

A network-centric approach to drugging TNF-induced NF-kB signaling
NA Pabon, Q Zhang, JA Cruz, DL Schipper, CJ Camacho*, REC Lee*
Nature Communications (* co-corresponding)

NF-κB Dynamics Discriminate between TNF Doses in Single Cells
Q Zhang, S Gupta, DL Schipper, GJ Kowalczyk, AE Mancini, JR Faeder, REC Lee
Cell Systems

NF-κB signalling and cell fate decisions in response to a short pulse of tumour necrosis factor
REC Lee, MA Qasaimeh, X Xia, D Juncker, S Gaudet
Scientific Reports

Fold Change of Nuclear NF-κB Determines TNF-Induced Transcription in Single Cells
REC Lee, SR Walker, K Savery, DA Frank, S Gaudet
Molecular cell