Our Team

The Lee Lab

The Lee Lab collaborates on the mining of large clinical datasets and registries from around the world and unlocking the power of Big Data through recent breakthroughs in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Major research focuses include bioinformatics, deep learning, next generation sequencing, clinical epidemiology, and data visualization. Recent published work includes clinical outcomes research in age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Cecilia S. Lee MD MS

  • Professor
  • Klorfine Family Endowed Chair
  • Director, Clinical Research, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington
  • Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health
  • Medical Retina, Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • Uveitis, Washington University St. Louis
  • MS, University of Washington School of Public Health
  • MD, Emory University
  • BS, Emory University

Dr. Cecilia Lee is an active clinician-scientist with expertise in Big Data analyses and clinical epidemiology. She is a medical retina and uveitis specialist trained at Emory University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Moorfields Eye Hospital. She obtained a Master's of Science in Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Dr. Lee's research interests focus on finding the connections between the eye and the brain using non-invasive imaging, Big Data and advanced computational approaches. Dr. Lee aspires to take advantage of increasingly complex and massive amounts of ophthalmic clinical data to better understand blinding eye diseases, discover new ophthalmic biomarkers of brain disease, and translate the research findings into providing better care for the patients. She has received funding from the National Eye Institute and National Institute on Aging for her research projects. She is affiliated with the University of Washington and Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and exploring nature.

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Aaron Y. Lee MD MSCI

  • Associate Professor
  • C. Dan and Irene Hunter Endowed Professor
  • Vitreoretinal Surgery, UBC
  • Medical Retina, Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • MSCI, Washington University
  • MD, Washington University
  • BS, Harvard University

Dr. Aaron Lee earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University and then attended Washington University in St Louis for his medical degree and a master's degree in clinical investigations. He completed his ophthalmology residency at Washington University in St Louis, followed by two fellowships in vitreoretinal diseases: a medical retina fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and a surgical retina fellowship at University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Lee is interested in the intersection of large clinical medical datasets and non-traditional computational techniques, and he has been the first to apply novel visualization approaches to analyze results from cloud and cluster-based computing environments. He has created programs to process next-generation sequencing data in supercomputing environments and analyzed numerous Big Data sources including CMS, US Census, and NLM MEDLINE archives. His work is at the forefront of translating AI into ophthalmology research and practice.

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Yue Wu PhD

  • Acting Instructor
  • PhD, University of Cambridge, Machine Learning
  • BA, Harvard University

Yue Wu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Lee Lab. He completed his BA in statistics at Harvard University and then earned his PhD in engineering from the University of Cambridge. He joined the Lee Lab in 2017. His scientific interests include statistics, probability, graphical models, Monte Carlo and Sequential Carlo methods, and deep learning.

Publications:        

Yuka Kihara MS

  • Research Scientist
  • PhD, Chubu University, Machine Perception and Robotics
  • MS, Sophia University, Mathematics
  • BS, Sophia University, Mathematics

Yuka Kihara was born in Hiroshima, Japan and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She joined the Lee Lab in 2018. She is interested in the interface between machine learning, computer vision, and medical data analysis. She previously worked for a major Japanese imaging and electronics company developing new software functions for copiers, printers and projectors. She is a former visiting research scientist at Cornell University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Publications:        

Missy M. Takahashi BS

  • Research Manager
  • BS, University of Washington, Psychology

Missy Takahashi was born and raised in Maple Valley, Washington. She joined the Lee Lab in 2019. She has worked for over 15 years on various academic and applied research projects in areas including: electrophysiology, cognitive neurolinguistics, early childhood development, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and clinical oncology. She has a particular interest in cognitive neuroscience and research that investigates the connection between the mind and the body. Outside of work, she lives with her POSSLQ (Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters) and she enjoys playing with her two German Shepherds, Toph & Mako. As an avid dodgeball player, Missy travels often to represent Seattle at local, national, and international competitive tournaments.

Julia P. Owen PhD

  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, UCSF, Radiology
  • PhD, UC Berkeley/UCSF, Bioengineering
  • BSE, Cooper Union, Engineering

Julia Owen was raised in the DC suburbs. She joined the Lee Lab in 2019. Her scientific interests include medical imaging, deep learning, and big data analysis. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow focusing on diffusion MRI and fMRI-related studies of different neurological diseases at UCSF. More recently, she was a Research Scientist at the Integrated Brain Imaging Center at the University of Washington.

Publications:    

Emily L. Heindsmann MA

  • Administrative Manager
  • MA, Antioch University Seattle, Whole Systems Design
  • BA, University of Puget Sound, Cultural Anthropology

Emily Heindsmann is a lifelong resident of the Seattle area. She joined the Lee Lab in December 2019 to provide administrative support to Drs. Aaron and Cecilia Lee. She is interested in the intersections between health, nature, culture, and community. She previously worked in the nonprofit sector, specializing in community engagement, sustainable practices, and continuing education. A Certified Permaculture Designer, she facilitated permaculture courses throughout the Puget Sound region. Outside of the lab, she plans fundraising events for local nonprofits, practices yoga, and sings with a dynamic local choir that tours internationally. 

Yelena Bagdasarova PhD

  • Research Scientist
  • PhD, University of Washington, Experimental Nuclear Physics
  • BS, MIT, Physics

Yelena Bagdasarova grew up in Idaho. She joined the Lee Lab in 2020. She is currently using deep learning to segment Reticular Pseudodrusen lesions in retinal optical coherence tomography B-scans. She has a passion for learning and sharing information with others. Her scientific interests include Monte Carlo simulations, Data Analysis, and Deep Learning. She is part of Data Circles, a community of data scientists dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment for professional growth.

Marian S. Blazes MD

  • Research Scientist
  • MD, Johns Hopkins University

Marian Blazes is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Princeton University, and received her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow in gynecologic oncology at Hopkins, and then took some time off from medicine to raise her three children. Later, she obtained a medical writing certificate from UCSD and returned to work as a medical writer, specializing in academic writing. She joined the Lee Lab in 2020, and is excited to help communicate how artificial intelligence is influencing the practice of medicine. For fun, Marian enjoys running, baking and fiber arts.

Publications:        

Jamie Shaffer MS

  • Research Scientist
  • MS, University of Washington, Electrical Engineering
  • BS, Michigan State University, Electrical Engineering

Jamie Shaffer earned a BSEE from Michigan State University and an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. Her background includes research and development in novel image sensors, imaging systems, and image based metrology. She joined the Lee Lab in 2020 where her interests include data analysis and applying deep learning to challenges in medical imaging.

Christina Duong

  • Research Study Coordinator
  • BS, University of Washington, Microbiology
  • Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

Christina Duong is a Seattleite, born and raised. After receiving her BS from the University of Washington, she fell head over heels for the world of ophthalmology, spending several years as an ophthalmic technician. She subsequently joined the Lee Lab in 2022 to use her clinical background of ophthalmic imaging for the betterment of ophthalmic research. Outside of work, she loses her mind over house plants and birds. 

Trina Kim

  • Research Coordinator
  • B.A., University of California Los Angeles

Trina was born in Bellevue, WA and primarily grew up in southern California.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts at UCLA in Economics and is most interested in health disparity and inequity research.  She started her clinical research career as a research assistant at UCLA's Department of Rheumatology.  Since then, she has worked in research operations as a coordinator and as a CRA in industry with a primary focus on infectious diseases and vaccines.  In her free time, she enjoys exploring new restaurants and cafes, cooking, baking, golfing, traveling, doing art (watercolor and ceramics), visiting farm sanctuaries, and spending quality time with family and friends. 

Nayoon Gim

  • Research Scientist
  • MD/PhD (MSTP) student University of Washington
  • B.S., Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry,  Northeastern University

Nayoon is originally from Seoul, South Korea. She moved to Seattle in 2021 for her medical scientist training after spending 6 years in Boston. Prior to medical school, she spent two years working as a Research Assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT, studying better ways to deliver therapeutics in the human body. Nayoon completed two years of medical training and is currently a first year PhD student in Bioengineering. Her interests include innovations in medicine, machine learning, and applying computational methods to solve problems in healthcare. Outside of work, Nayoon enjoys making coffee, crafting, reading, and spending time with her friends, partner, and younger brother.

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Caitlyn Ngadisastra

  • Research Study Assistant
  • BS, University of Oregon

Caitlyn was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and grew up in Queens, NY, and Kenmore, WA. They earned their BS at the University of Oregon in Biology and minored in Chemistry and Classical Civilizations. While in school, they joined the Social Affective Neuroscience Lab on a study about self-regulation and motivation in nicotine cessation. She is currently considering options for her career and graduate school during her gap year(s) but is excited to be working in a research lab environment. Outside of work, Caitlyn enjoys designing jewelry, bodybuilding, cooking, and spending time with her friends, partner, and kitty, Snickerdoodle.

Cari Drolet

  • Senior Research Project Manager
  • PhD, Brock University,  Social and Personality Psychology

Cari Drolet grew up in southeastern Michigan. She joined the Lee Lab in 2023. She has a PhD in Social and Personality Psychology and spent nearly a decade conducting research in Ontario and Michigan before moving to Seattle. Her work and training were focused on quantitative analysis/statistics, research design, and psychometrics. Outside of the lab, she enjoys paddle boarding, hiking, karaoke, and playing with her grumpy cat, Slippers. 

Alice John

  • Administrative Assistant II
  • BA, University of Washington

Alice John was born and raised in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature and went back to school during the pandemic to get her HR certification in Human Resources Essentials at the UW school of Professional and Continuing Education. She has previously worked for non-profits and her professional background has mainly been administrative and customer focused. Under the guidance of Emily Heindsmann and Missy Takahashi, Alice joined the Lee Lab this year to assist Drs. Aaron and Cecilia Lee with their administrative duties. 

Yulie Jiang PhD

  • Postdoctoral Scholar
  • PhD, Pennsylvania State University

Yulie received her PhD from Penn State, where she specialized in statistical genetics. She has always been drawn to looking for clues and trying to disentangle the complex web of genetic factors that influence disease susceptibility. Recently, the aim of her research has been looking for biomarkers that can improve clinical decision-making related to neurological and ophthalmic diseases. As a big Nintendo and Lego fan, she plays Nintendo games and builds Legos outside of work

Kevin Zhao

  • Research Coordinator
  • BS, UCLA, Physiological Science

Kevin was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Bellevue, WA. He earned his Bachelor of Science at UCLA in Physiological Science. During undergrad, Kevin conducted research on sleep and circadian rhythms in mice at the Paul Lab and clinical research on cannabis and tobacco at UCLA Cardiology. He joined the Lee Lab in 2023 and is excited to learn more about the field of ophthalmology and the intersection between medicine and computer science. Outside of work, he enjoys playing piano, skiing, golfing, travelling, exploring new restaurants, and spending time with friends and family. 

Cath Ashley

  • Research Coordinator
  • BA; University of California, Berkeley; Molecular and Cell Biology, Immunology Emphasis 

Cath Ashley joined the Lee Lab in 2023. Cath has worked for 4 years in life sciences research, and spent nearly 3 of those years as a research coordinator in clinical oncology trials. Cath has a particular interest in programming and applying computer science to solve problems in the world of medicine. At the Lee Lab, Cath’s goal is to contribute to innovative ophthalmic research, using prior experience in both Python programming and clinical research coordination. Outside of the lab, Cath’s hobbies include playing The Legend of Zelda, dancing, singing, collecting art, drawing, obsessing over cats, and more programming.

Alina Ferguson

  • Research Assistant
  • MD candidate, University of Washington
  • BS, University of Washington

Alina was born and raised in the Seattle area and studied biology with a cellular physiology focus and minor in diversity studies at the University of Washington. She is currently a second-year medical student at UW. She joined the Lee Lab this year and is excited to work on the clinical research team with the Artificial Intelligence Ready and Equitable Atlas for Diabetes Insights (AI-READI) Study. Outside of work, she enjoys running, indoor spin, and spending time with loved ones.

Anthony Zhou

  • Research Study Assistant
  • BS, University of Washington, Public Health

Anthony spent his early years in Bucharest, Romania. After moving to Seattle, he developed a deep appreciation for coffee. While pursuing a BS in Public Health at the University of Washington, he took a study abroad semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he fell in love with the pastries and efficient public transportation. Currently applying to Epidemiology master's programs both in the United States and Europe, Anthony eagerly joined the Lee Lab as a research assistant, valuing the support and guidance from his team. Outside work, he enjoys hiking, playing video games, and has recently taken up the bass guitar.

Brandon Sim

  • Research Study Assistant
  • BA; University of Washington

Brandon was born and raised in the Seattle area. He joined the Lee Lab in 2023. At the University of Washington, Brandon studied biochemistry and math and conducted molecular and cellular biophysics research, and he is excited to now be diving into clinical research. Outside the lab, he enjoys reading, exercise, and community organizing!



Former Lab Members

Ashley Batchelor MS

  • Research Scientist
  • MS, University of Washington, Physics
  • BS, University of Washington, Physics

Ashley Batchelor joined the Lee Lab in 2021. For his MS research, he created machine learning models at the Large Hadron Collider in the search for new physics in the decay products of the Higgs Boson. He has worked with a variety of optical and imaging technologies in the metrology industry. His research interests include computer vision, big data, and machine learning. Ashley enjoys Seido Karate, hiking, mountain climbing, astronomy, wildlife photography, and learning Marathi.

Auyush Verma

  • Research Assistant

Aayush Verma was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Prior to working at the Lee lab, Aayush worked at Bond Intelligence as a software engineer, where he worked on machine learning algorithms that used market data to predict future prices of corporate and government securities. He is a gap year student and will be enrolling into college in the fall of 2023. He has a high interest in the applications of machine learning to biomedical research. Outside of work, his hobbies include soccer and skiing.

Scott Song

  • BA, Amherst College

Scott Song was born in Castro Valley, CA and raised in the Bay Area. He received his bachelor's degrees in Biochemistry & Biophysics and Computer Science at Amherst College in Amherst, MA. During his undergraduate studies, Scott conducted wet lab research on Huntington's Disease at the Yang Lab, Stanford, and worked on developing a computational approach to quantitively measure protein dynamics in native-state hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry experiments for his senior honors thesis at Amherst. He has a strong interest in the application of machine learning, big data, and other computer science concepts to biomedical research. Outside of work, Scott enjoys cooking, swimming, and spending time with friends.

Mira Tang

  • Research Assistant
  • BA candidate, Wellesley College, Neuroscience

Mira Tang grew up in Mercer Island, Washington and is currently a junior majoring in neuroscience at Wellesley College. She is interested in studying Alzheimer's Disease and its connection between the retina and the brain. She joined the Lee Lab in 2022 and is excited to join the clinical research team on the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) study and beginning preliminary work for the OT2 study. Outside of the lab, she is a varsity swimmer and enjoys cooking and spending time with family. 

Oliver Davidson

  • MD Candidate, Medical College of Georgia
  • BS, Rhodes College

Oliver was born in Atlanta, GA and studied biology and physics at Rhodes College. After finishing his 3rd year of medical school at the Medical College of Georgia he joined our clinical research team to pursue his interest in the intersection of computer science and medical research. His previous experiences have focused on the role of G-protein coupled estrogen receptors in wound healing and prognostic factors for optic neuritis that can acquired through various imaging. Prior to starting medical school, he worked in IT and as an assistant to an ophthalmologist which convinced him to pursue clinical medicine. Outside of the office he can be found birdwatching, biking, and talking on the phone with his friends.

Anand Rajesh

  • MD candidate, University of Washington
  • BS, Brown University

Anand Rajesh was born in Seattle and studied neuroscience at Brown University with a focus on the neurobiology of learning. He is currently a 3rd year medical student at the University of Washington taking an expanded year to pursue research. Prior to medical school, he spent two years working in neuroimaging with the Multiple Sclerosis Group at UCSF and the Department of Otolaryngology at UW. His primary interest lies in the intersection of clinical medicine and technology, specifically using machine learning/computational techniques to improve patient care. In his free time he enjoys cycling with his partner, playing/watching sports and spending time with his brother and parents.

Publications:        

Ted Spaide PhD

  • Research Scientist
  • Senior Fellow
  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Algebraic Geometry
  • BS, Harvey Mudd College, Mathematics

Ted Spaide received a BS in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania focusing on Algebraic Geometry. Currently, he is working in the Lee Lab studying deep learning and its applications to medical data. He is interested in unsupervised learning and attention and memory mechanisms. While at the Lee Lab, Ted contributed critically to many deep learning projects, including automation of intraocular pressure readings using Goldmann applanation tonometry and the visualization of the ocular pulse amplitude readings.

Megan Lacy MS

  • Research Scientist
  • MS, University of Michigan, Biostatistics
  • BS, University of Washington, Neurobiology

Megan Lacy was born and raised in the Seattle area. She joined the Lee Lab in 2020, and her research is focused on big data analysis. Previously Megan worked as an independent statistician supporting data safety monitoring boards for phase II and III clinical trials. When not working, Megan enjoys hiking, baking, and supporting the Seattle Sounders and Storm. 

Randy Lu

  • MD candidate, University of Washington
  • BS, University of Washington

Randy joined the Lee Lab in 2021. He grew up in Bellevue, Washington and studied biochemistry at the University of Washington. He is currently a third year medical student at UW. Prior to attending med school, he worked at a cancer diagnostic lab and spent some time working in a lab for the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM).  His is interested in machine learning and big data applied to ophthalmology and medical imaging. Outside of work, his hobbies include skiing, basketball, and spending time with his partner and their dog Joey. 

Publications:        

Morgan Maring MS

  • Research Assistant
  • MS, University of Southern California, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine
  • BS, University of Southern California, Neuroscience

Morgan Maring was born and raised in Bellevue, Washington. She joined the Lee Lab in 2020 and is excited to join the recruiting efforts to involve more patients in the National Opinion Research Council (NORC)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS) Validation Study. Previously, she worked as a research assistant at the USC Stem Cell Department where she studied neural stem cell mechanisms. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking and skiing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Ryan T. Yanagihara MD

  • Research Scientist
  • MD, University of Hawaii
  • BS, University of Washington, General Biology

Ryan Yanagihara was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He joined the Lee Lab in 2019. He is interested in clinical ophthalmology and the applications of deep learning in ophthalmology and Big Data science. He previously worked as a research assistant at Retina Consultants of Hawaii and the Hawaii Macula and Retina Institute. Ryan strives to become an ophthalmologist who will contribute greatly to the community and science. Outside of work, Ryan enjoys photography, hiking, and making spam musubis.

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Matthew Hunt MS3

  • MD Candidate, Washington University
  • BS, University of Minnesota

Matthew Hunt grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He was homeschooled through high school and then completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota in biomedical engineering. He is currently a third year medical student at Washington University in St. Louis. Matthew has a strong interest in machine learning and its development and implementation for medical purposes, particularly in image processing and deep learning. He joined the Lee Lab in 2020 and is collaborating with Dr. Van Gelder's lab in machine learning research to answer some foundational questions regarding the nervous system.

Tim Kung MS2

  • MD Candidate, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
  • BA, Pomona College, Molecular Biology

Timothy Kung was born in Baton Rouge, LA and raised in Southern California. He completed his undergraduate education at Pomona College in Claremont, CA and is currently attending the Jacobs School of Medicine in Buffalo, NY. Tim previously worked as a research assistant at Pomona College, the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Research Institute in San Diego, the University College London (UCL), UCSD and SDSU. He joined the Lee Lab in 2020. Tim is interested in clinical ophthalmology and using data analytics and deep learning to answer questions in the field of ophthalmology.

Savannah Miller BA

  • Research Study Assistant
  • BA, University of Washington, Psychology

Savannah Miller is originally from Lummi Island, Washington. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Washington in 2019. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research with the Center for the Science of Social Connection and the University of Washington's Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress labs. Her research focused on race relations, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy. She went on to work as a Behavioral Technician and Post-Bac Research Coordinator before joining the Lee Lab in September of 2020. Savannah enjoys backpacking, yoga, and spending time with her two cats, Luke and Luna. While at the Lee Lab, Savannah played an integral role in devising strategies for improving telephone recruitment during the COVID-19 pandemic for a national research project. Savannah is currently pursuing her Master's degree in psychology at Bastyr University.

Ben Weintraub PhD

  • Research Scientist
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Oregon
  • PhD, Georgia Tech
  • BS, UC Berkeley

Ben Weintraub earned his bachelors degree from UC Berkeley and attended Georgia Tech for a doctorate in Materials Science & Engineering. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oregon through the Nanoscience Open Research Initiative and taught chemistry at the undergraduate level for a number of years. Recently, he worked on machine learning techniques for automating object detection in electron microscopy. He joined the Lee Lab in 2020 and is interested in deep learning techniques applied to medical imaging and working with large medical datasets. While at the Lee Lab, Ben contributed greatly to deep learning and big data projects.

Bryan Yue, BS (2015 - 2018)
Doug Baughman, MD (2016 - 2017)
Max Van Gelder (2017 - 2019)
Andrew Lin, MD (2019 - 2020)
Colin Wen (2019 - 2020)
Sa Xiao, PhD (2017 - 2019)