Yi-Fen Lee, Ph.D.

Yi-Fen Lee, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 656
Rochester, NY 14642

Office: (585) 275-9702
Lab: (585) 275-9703

Research Bio

My research focuses on elucidating two nuclear receptors (NRs), vitamin D receptor (VDR) and Testicular receptor 4 (TR4) and their ligand-induced signals for their impacts on the prostate, bladder cancer, and other hormone-related diseases by utilizing biochemical/molecular approaches and genetically engineered animal models.
In the vitamin D projects, we focus on two areas. (1) The first is the chemotherapy and chemopreventive effects of vitamin D on urologically-related cancers, including prostate cancer and bladder cancer. We applied molecular approaches and cell and mice carcinogenesis models to study the underlying molecular mechanisms by which vitamin D/VDR inhibits prostate and bladder carcinogenesis. (

2) The second is investigating the impacts of the vitamin D/VDR signal to the response of non-muscle invading bladder cancer to intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) immunotherapy in experimental models. In order to dissect VDR in different cellular compartments to mediate anti-tumor activity as well as immune response, tissue-specific VDR knockout mice are being established in my laboratory.
TR4 belongs to the NR superfamily that controls a broad range of biologic programs. Via knockout mice studies, we discover TR4 roles in anti-aging and anti-prostate cancer which reinforce the strong correlation between aging and prostate cancer for which peak incidence and mortality rates occur in the older population. Dysfunction of TR4, including gene mutations and abnormal nucleocytoplasmic translocation found in human prostate cancer compromises TR4 protective effects, thereby promoting cancer. Many directions, such as identifying the upstream modulators, dissecting the TR4-mediated signaling pathways, and analyzing TR4 gene/protein profile from cancer patients are ongoing. Our ultimate goal is to design preventive and/or therapeutic approaches that exploit the responsible factors or pathways to stop or slow down prostate cancer progression, as well as to retard other aging-related diseases.

Awards & Honors (Local)

New York Academy of Medicine Edwin Beer Fellowship Award 2003-2005
Third Prize, Cap CURE Award 2002 AUA

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 55 available »

2016 Apr 26
Silvers CR, Liu YR, Wu CH, Miyamoto H, Messing EM, Lee YF. "Identification of extracellular vesicle-borne periostin as a feature of muscle-invasive bladder cancer." Oncotarget. 2016 Apr 26; 7(17):23335-45.
2014 Dec 15
Yasmin-Karim S, King MR, Messing EM, Lee YF. "E-selectin ligand-1 controls circulating prostate cancer cell rolling/adhesion and metastasis." Oncotarget. 2014 Dec 15; 5(23):12097-110.
2014 Aug
Beckham CJ, Olsen J, Yin PN, Wu CH, Ting HJ, Hagen FK, Scosyrev E, Messing EM, Lee YF. "Bladder cancer exosomes contain EDIL-3/Del1 and facilitate cancer progression." The Journal of urology. 2014 Aug; 192(2):583-92. Epub 2014 Feb 14.
2014 Jun
Lin SJ, Lee SO, Lee YF, Miyamoto H, Yang DR, Li G, Chang C. "TR4 nuclear receptor functions as a tumor suppressor for prostate tumorigenesis via modulation of DNA damage/repair system." Carcinogenesis. 2014 Jun; 35(6):1399-406. Epub 2014 Feb 28.
2013 Dec
Hsu JW, Yin PN, Wood R, Messing J, Messing E, Lee YF. "1 alpha, 25-dihydroxylvitamin D3 promotes Bacillus Calmette-Guérin immunotherapy of bladder cancer." Oncotarget. 2013 Dec; 4(12):2397-406.

Current Appointments

Professor - Department of Urology (SMD) - Primary
Professor - Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (SMD)


PhD | Endocrinology/Molecular Oncology | Univ Wisconsin-Madison1997
MS | Biology | Tung-Hai University1988
BS | Biology | Tung-Hai University1986

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Pathology 2001
Lab Manager, Department of Pathology 2002