Lee Laboratory




Our lab is a neurotoxicology and neuropharmacology laboratory in the Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health. Our research focuses on investigating molecular mechanisms of neurotoxicity caused by environmental toxicants such as manganese (Mn) and the neuroprotective effects of estrogenic compounds at the transcriptional level. We have discovered several genes associated with these neurotoxicity and neuroprotection mechanisms. Our goal is to identify the potential molecular targets to treat Mn toxicity and other neurodegenerative diseases at genetic and epigenetic levels in pursuit of novel neuropharmacotherapies.



Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) \result from the gradual and progressive loss of brain cells, leading to nervous system dysfunction. Mn neurotoxicity referred to as manganism, shares many pathological features of PD.  Here in the Lee lab, we study the molecular mechanisms associated with those neurodegenerative diseases in different neural cell types such as astrocytes, neurons, and microglia.

Symptoms of manganism are very similar to those of Parkinson’s–shaking of the hands, arms, and other appendages, loss of motor control,   fixed facial expressions or facial muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, etc.




The human brain contains not only neurons, but also glial cells such as astrocytes and microglia. Neurons are the main cell types to generate signals in the brain, but glial cells must coordinate with neurons for the proper neuronal signals and functions, known as tripartite synapses. One of the major focuses of our lab is to use in vitro cell cultures and in vivo animal models of Mn-induced neurotoxicity, focusing on dopaminergic neurons, astrocytes, and microglia. Since Mn induces similar toxicities to PD, our studies also help us understand PD pathogenesis.

One of the major pathological signs of manganism and PD is progressive dopaminergic neuronal loss and neuronal dysfunction. We are particularly interested in understanding how Mn-induced dysregulation of astrocytic glutamate transporters affects dopaminergic neurodegeneration, as these transporters directly regulate excitotoxicity of dopaminergic neurons at the tripartite synapse. Our work aims to understand the underlying mechanisms of Mn-induced neurotoxicity better, leading to the identification of molecular targets to develop therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.




  • Michael Aschner, Ph.D.
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Deok-Soo Son, DVM, Ph.D.
    Meharry medical College
  • Jenny Hsieh, Ph.D.
    University of Texas at San Antonio



Email: asha1.rizor@famu.edu

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Email: judong.kim@famu.edu
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Email: james.johnson@famu.edu
Postdoctoral Research Associate/Lab Manager
Email: edward.pajarillo@famu.edu



Eunsook Lee, R.Ph., Ph.D.
Professor/Principal Investigator
College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health 
Florida A&M University
Tallahassee, FL 32307
Office: (850) 412-7565
Email: eunsook.lee@famu.edu