What led you to gastroenterology?
What most appealed to me is the wide range of diseases that affect the GI tract and the correlation between physiology and treatments. The treatments make sense. [During my studies], I was most interested in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It was a fascination with evidence-based treatments, those that target the molecules that cause the inflammation in IBD.
Your course of academic study was fairly untraditional for a woman (biomedical engineering and gastroenterology). What were the challenges you faced? How did they prepare you for your practice?
There were not that many challenges. It’s true that more men than women go into gastroenterology, but that’s changing. When I studied, there were more women than men in the past, and that number increased progressively beyond my year. My undergraduate focus on biomedical engineering was part of my logical mathematical mind and my love for science. It helped me to use these interests in my studies, and it also prepared me for medical school.
What are your specific clinical interests in gastroenterology?
Colon cancer detection/prevention and IBD. This is because of the exposure I received during my fellowship at a major IBD center*. Helping patients achieve clinical remission of IBD is very rewarding. Also, since many patients with IBD tend to be younger when diagnosed, treating them can affect their lives for a lengthy time, both physically and emotionally. Successful treatment allows them to get on with their lives—pursue college, and fulfill their dreams.
You’ll be working with a highly accomplished group at DHC. How does this inspire you?
It’s very exciting to join a well-established gastroenterology group that practices great medicine and provides state-of-the-art care to patients. DHC was the kind of practice I was looking for, one that provides evidence-based treatments and high-quality medicine. I hope to contribute to further DHC’s reputation.
You received an outstanding female student award in medical school. Did this contribute to your interest in female health? If not, what did?
I think my interest in women’s health comes from being a woman myself. I’m interested in how certain types of GI disorders affect women to a greater degree than men. In addition, I am motivated by hearing from patients and family members how good it is to talk to women about their GI issues.
*Mount Sinai Medical Center, where Dr. Lee studied, has been at the forefront of treatment for IBD for nearly 100 years. In fact, Crohn’s disease was named for Mount Sinai physician Burrill B. Crohn, MD, after he and his colleagues first described the condition in 1932.