Sung-Jae Lee, PhD is an Associate Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, with a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. He was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Bangkok, Thailand.  He spent his first 6 years in the US on the East Coast and has lived in Los Angeles for the past 20 years. Jae is a die-hard fan of the Lakers and the Raiders.

Jae’s research, training, and community engagement work have been strongly shaped by his pursuit of addressing health disparities affecting HIV prevention and care among vulnerable communities impacted by HIV/AIDS. Jae has served as a key member on several NIH-funded intervention trials in Thailand and Vietnam, including his work on HIV disclosure among families and mothers living with HIV in Thailand. Staying true to his community engaged work, his methods expertise includes conjoint analysis to assess consumer preferences in behavioral health and biomedical strategies (e.g. HIV vaccines, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) acceptability, HIV testing, and dual testing for syphilis and HIV). Jae currently serves as a Conjoint Analysis Expert on a large NIH-funded trial (UM1AI120176-01) at the University of Washington to develop long-acting drugs as antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV.

On the domestic front, Jae works with Dr. Norweeta Milburn on the CHRP-funded UCLA CFAR Health Disparities Core. Jae serves as the project lead for the Recruitment Engagement and Retention Center (RERC) for the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network U19 (ATN CARES) in Los Angeles (U19HD089886), with the overall goal to recruit and follow youth aged 12-24 at the highest risk of acquiring HIV in two HIV epicenters, Los Angeles and New Orleans. To date, his team has successfully recruited over 1400 youth with close to 80% retention.

Jae loves teaching and mentoring. He serves as an advisor to many masters and doctoral students in the Department of Epidemiology. Working alongside his longtime mentor, Roger Detels, Jae directs the Fogarty HIV Research Training Programs in Thailand and Myanmar, with opportunities to mentor scholars from Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and China.

Outside of work, Jae enjoys weekend shenanigans with his wife of 15 years, Truc Tang (his true better half), and their 8 year-old girl (Lucinda)-boy (Everest) twins. Like many kids growing up in Asia, Jae is a big fan of Bruce Lee, who once said “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.” Jae loves to find ways to honestly express himself, whether through his love of boxing, Gundam model building, or his fondness for raw denim. The best description of his office attire would be “denim on denim, on denim’.

Each month, we’re featuring a member of our CHIPTS family and their work! To see past spotlights, check them out on the spotlights page  and make sure to check back to see who we feature next!