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Lawrence J. Ellison Institute Welcomes Jerry S.H. Lee, PhD as Chief Scientific and Innovation Officer

The Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC is thrilled to welcome Jerry S.H. Lee, PhD as their new Chief Scientific and Innovation Officer. Lee also joins Keck Medicine of USC as an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine after serving as the Health Sciences Director of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. He will augment the Ellison Institute’s ability to leverage technology, spark innovation, and drive research to reimagine and redefine cancer treatment, enhance health and transform lives.
Lee earned his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and then his PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. During his time at the NCI, Lee developed a well-deserved reputation as a driver of innovation in cancer strategies. He rapidly grew to Chief of Staff under Dr. Anna Barker, and ultimately became an NCI Health Sciences Director in 2010 where his chief responsibility was to help direct the NCI’s Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI). Since its inception in 2003, the Center has supported more than 2,000 trans-disciplinary projects through programs such as the Innovation Molecular Analysis Technologies (IMAT), NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC), Provocative Questions (PQ), and Cancer Target Discovery and Development (CTD2) network. These leading-edge initiatives focused on the integration of advanced technologies, cross-disciplinary approaches, infrastructures, and standards to accelerate the creation of publicly available, broadly accessible data, and tools to empower the entire cancer research community to advance patient care. Throughout his time with the NCI, Lee led multiple transformational projects that have changed the landscape of cancer research, including key innovations like the first PS-OC program that trained more than 600 interdisciplinary cancer researchers, the transition and initial expansion of The Cancer Genome Atlas program, and the creation of the nation’s first integrated proteogenomics cancer care early discovery-to-clinical healthcare implementation system for military and veteran cancer patients, the Applied Proteogenomics OrganizationaL Learning and Outcomes (APOLLO) network.

David Agus, MD, the founding Director and CEO of the Ellison Institute says, “Jerry has been a friend and colleague whom I have admired and valued over many years. I am so excited for this opportunity to join forces with him to help change the face of medical research and change lives.”

A Shared Vision

Lee and Agus first met in 2007 at a meeting for an NCI grant on which Agus was working in nanotechnology. Agus stood out to Lee from their first meeting. “I remember that he had great answers and great vision for how he thought advanced technologies could play a role in helping him as a physician,” says Lee. Beyond their first meeting, Lee and Agus continued to build a relationship over the last ten years, sharing ideas for how to best further the research they so passionately pursue. Both are driven by a desire to make big changes in research which will have a meaningful and significant impact on patient lives. Both are also able to make connections, bringing together large-scale collaborations and identifying potential in new technologies as well as strategic keystone events needed to make those technologies truly functional. And, both see the value in tearing down the existing barriers in research to help patients more quickly and effectively. In short, they share a vision. 

The Ellison Institute, like Lee, has a history of looking at cancer research in an unorthodox way, focusing on the exponential power of convergent and interdisciplinary sciences. The Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC is leading a charge to vertically integrate the interdisciplinary study and control of cancer, encompassing both research and clinical management. The Institute’s clinicians bring new technologies, treatments, and cures from the lab directly to the patients they see every day. Research discoveries inform care, and results in the clinic will be incorporated into the research pipeline. The Ellison Institute envisions this continuous feedback loop allowing real-time information is readily accessible for immediate use by physicians and researchers.  

Convergent Power for Change

Lee was drawn across the country to the Ellison Institute by the vision and leadership of Agus, as well as something more. “Both the conceptual picture Dr. Agus has painted for the Institute, as well as, of course, Larry Ellison’s reputation and what he has accomplished captured my attention. The Ellison Institute really represents for me what needs to happen to truly transform both cancer and healthcare in the next five to ten years,” shares Lee.  

The power of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC lies in how it integrates a wide array of disciplines, approaches, and creative minds to the fight against disease and illness. Agus says, “With the help of visionaries like Jerry, we are able to embrace and empower the disruptive thinking needed at times to make new discoveries, while building on the brilliant work that our scientific forefathers created in order to solve problems and enhance health for patients today as well as create new pathways toward long, disease-free lives for future generations.” 

Lee comes to the Los Angeles area with his superstar wife, Connie Lee, who received her Master of Public Health from Yale University and will be directing the Appointment Center of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and their two sons, Dylan and Kai.