James J. Lee

Dr. James J. Lee, formerly of Freeport, died March 2017.

Born June 14, 1958, he was baptized and raised Catholic. He attended public school in Copaigue and graduated from Copaigue High School in 1976. He graduated valedictorian from Stony Brook University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. He received a full scholarship with stipend for graduate studies at Caltech. In the late 1980s, he received a Ph.D. in genetic studies from Columbia University. Post-doctorate, he interned at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

In 1980 he married Jo Anne, who was a childhood friend. She was killed in 1984 by a drunk driver in California. He later married his colleague, Dr. Nancy Lee, who has a Ph.D. in microbiology.

Since 1991, James and Nancy worked as the head of the research lab at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., where James held the position of professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the division of pulmonary medicine. He and Nancy researched the genetics of wild mice to isolate and study the gene that causes asthma.

James’ life’s work was “improving our understanding of how eosinophilic leukocytes contribute to the pathogenesis of allergy, asthma and cancer,” according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He was the past president of the International Eosinophil Society, where he served on the board of directors; was a member of the National Institute of Health Taskforce on the research needs of eosinophil-associated diseases; and served as co-editor-in-chief for the multi-author text “Eosinophils in health and disease.”

In addition to being well-known at Cold Spring Harbor Research Lab, Mr. Lee traveled the world and became a globally known scientist.

A memorial Mass, which was arranged by his family in Riverhead, will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead, Father Larry Duncklee officiating.

This is a paid notice.