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Tae-Hee Lee

Professor of Chemistry


Professional Appointments and Affiliations

Professor of Chemistry

Huck Institute of the Life Sciences


230 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802


B.S., Sogang University, Seoul, Korea 1993

Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 2004

Postdoc, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 2004-2007

Honors and Awards

Searle Scholar, 2008

Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, 2007

NIH Pathway to Independence Award, 2006


Single Molecule Biophysics

We investigate the mechanisms of complex biological processes by taking movies of how the individual molecules and complexes involved in the processes move and change their shapes during their actions. Methods of investigation include single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET), precise localization of macromolecules by fluorescence and light scattering, single photon correlation spectroscopy, and optical trapping. Systems of interest include molecules and complexes involved in gene transcription and translation.

Studying the dynamics of biological macromolecular complexes is essential to understanding their behavior and function in cells. Studying dynamics of asynchronously moving complexes through a multi-step process requires the capability of monitoring sub-population dynamics inaccessible from ensemble approaches, which can be efficiently achieved with single-molecule spectroscopy and microscopy. My research program focuses on the dynamics of molecules and complexes involved in gene transcription and replication to understand what roles their dynamics and motions play in these processes. Various single-molecule methods listed above are utilized to probe and control the dynamics of the molecules and complexes involved in these systems. My research program is very much interdisciplinary across biochemistry, physical chemistry, physics, molecular/structural/cellular biology, and nanoscale science/engineering. The goal is to provide i) novel insights into the link between the mechanisms of complex cellular machinery and the fundamental laws of dynamics, and ii) efficient single-molecule methods to study and control complex cellular processes.

Positions Available

Biophysics post-doc position openings

I am currently looking for post-doctoral researchers. Individuals trained in biological sciences or experimental physical sciences are strongly encouraged to apply. Enthusiastic scientists trained in other disciplines searching for career opportunities in single molecule biophysics are also welcome to apply. Potential roles in the lab include routine work in cellular/molecular biology, application and/or development of spectroscopic/microscopic techniques to the above described problems.

If interested, please send your CV, including references, to

Selected Publications

S Brahma, MI Udugama, J Kim, A Hada, SK Bhardwaj, SG Hailu, Tae-Hee Lee, Blaine Bartholomew, INO80 exchanges H2A.Z for H2A by translocating on DNA proximal to histone dimers, Nat. Commun. 8 15161 (2017)

Samantha Falk+, Jaehyoun Lee+, Nicolina Sekulic, Michael Sennett, Tae-Hee Lee, and Ben Black, CENP-C directs the CENP-A nucleosome structural transition primarily through sliding of DNA gyres, Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 23 204 (2016)

Sijie Wei, Samantha Falk, Ben Black, and Tae-Hee Lee, A novel hybrid single molecule approach reveals spontaneous DNA motion in the nucleosome, Nucleic Acids Res. 43 e111 (2015).

Ju Yeon Lee and Tae-Hee Lee, Effects of DNA methylation on the structure of nucleosomes, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134 173 (2012).

John Choy and Tae-Hee Lee, Dynamics of nucleosomes at single molecule resolution, Trends. Biochem. Sci. 37 425 (2012)

Ju Yeon Lee, Sijie Wei and Tae-Hee Lee, Effects of histone acetylation by Piccolo NuA4 on the structure of a nucleosome and the interactions between two nucleosomes, J. Biol. Chem286 11099 (2011)

Chen-Yu Liu, Mohd Tanvir Qureshi and Tae-Hee Lee, Interaction strengths between the ribosome and tRNA at various steps of translocation, Biophys. J. 100 2201 (2011)

Ravindra Kumar, Vishal Nahine, Padmaja Mishra, Stephen Benkovic and Tae-Hee Lee, Stepwise loading of yeast clamp revealed by ensemble and single-molecule studies, PNAS 107 19736 (2010)

Tae-Hee Lee, Extracting Kinetics Information from Single-Molecule Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Data Using Hidden Markov Models, J. Phys. Chem. B 113 11535 (2009)