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Trainee Takes Home Top Honours at This Year’s Ontario Biology Day

yung head shot

Yung Lee, IIDR trainee

Career defining moments are few and far between for many young scientists, but Yung Lee happens to be an exception to this tendency.

At the 29th annual Ontario Biology Day – a conference that brings together the brightest undergraduate researchers from across the province – Lee received top honours for his poster presentation on host-virus interactions.

“This was the first time I presented a poster and I really didn’t know what to expect,” says Lee, a second-year health sciences student.

“I simply approached the opportunity as a way to gain experience, but more and more people were showing real interest in my research, which was really exciting.”

Working under the guidance of IIDR member Dr. Charu Kaushic, Lee developed a novel in vitro model to study how the herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) interacts with the female reproductive tract.

The model, called an air-liquid interface culture, accurately mimics the lower female reproductive tract, providing Lee and his colleagues with a near-perfect environment to observe the virus’s behaviour.

“We can actually infect the model with the virus, giving us a glimpse into how the host, or patient, and the virus interact,” he explains.

“And because STDs are a global health concern, my hope is one day this model will allow researchers to test any type of bacterial infection that occurs in the female reproductive tract.”

This year’s Ontario Biology Day was hosted by Ryerson University’s Department of Chemistry and Biology and featured 85 poster presentations.