Learn-Han Lee

Assoc Professor

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Personal profile


Dr Lee Learn-Han is an Associate Professor and Head of the Microbiome and Bioresource Research Strength in Monash. He is also the Director of the prestigious Asia Pacific Microbiome and Biomedical Research Network (AMBeR). He believes that teaching and research allow him to fulfill an essential responsibility as molecular biology and medical microbiology scientist. Dr Lee was ranked among the World Top 2% Scientist in 2020 by Elsevier Scopus, clearly demonstrating his research impact on the global stage. His leadership and achievements in studying foodborne multidrug-resistant pathogens have led to top international recognition, evidenced by invitation by the US-FDA as the sole Malaysian Principal Investigator to collaborate on the genetic study of foodborne pathogens from Malaysia. Collaboration with top US-FDA scientists will contribute to the generation of high-quality research and engagement for Monash and Malaysia.

Dr Lee’s expertise in Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) and foodborne pathogens research is recognized by the US-FDA, evidenced by invitation from US-FDA as an invited speaker for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) Phase 2 workshop for food safety experts and policymakers, entitled “How WGS has revolutionized food safety: from environmental sampling to foodborne disease prevention, response, and mitigation”, September 14th and 15th in the Western Hemisphere / September 15th and 16th in the Eastern Hemisphere (20:00-23:00 Washington, D.C. / 8:00-11:00 Beijing / 10:00-13:00 Canberra). Dr Lee was the sole speaker from Malaysia and Monash, presented the topic entitled “The application of WGS for environmental sampling to better understand the natural variation of foodborne organisms in the environment - Correlation between certain genetic lineages (of E. coli, for instance) and specific products” for this prestigious international APEC event.

Dr Lee’s research leadership was evidenced as the Founder and Principal Investigator for Novel Bacteria and Drug Discovery Research Group (NBDD) since 2016. He also established the new research strength, “Microbiome and Bioresource Research Strength (MBRS)” in Dec 2018. Under his leadership, MBRS has developed high-standard collaborations with reputable institutions to strengthen research inputs and outputs of the school and campus, with an average of ~20 high-quality ISI articles published yearly. He ranks as the highest cited Microbial Taxonomy and Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens expert worldwide (Google Scholar), strongly indicating his research impact globally in these areas.  In honor of Malaysia and Monash, Dr Lee published and named novel bacterial after Malaysia and Monash, namely “Streptomyces malaysiense”, “Monashia flava”, and “Streptomyces monashensis”. He enabled Malaysia and Monash to have their own microbes that showed massive drug discovery potential that could benefit the local and international community, thus generating value for Monash and Malaysia by putting Malaysia and Monash's name on the World Atlas of bacteria.

Dr Lee’s education leadership role was shown by appointment as the prominent assessment panel (specialist fields) for accreditation of the entire Bachelor Program of Genetics in University Malaya (UM) in Feb 2017. Nomination by UM, Malaysia’s best public university with QS ranking of 70, depicted his education leadership role nationally in Genetics. As an assessment panel, his report was valuable in improving the program, directly contributing to increasing UM graduates' quality to strengthen Malaysia's science and technology development. His expertise is recognized globally with the appointment as an expert external international grant reviewer for Vienna Science and Technology Fund (Austria) in 2021 and the Estonian Research Council (2020 and 2021) in the field of Life Sciences.

In conclusion, Dr Lee’s excellent inputs and outputs in research, education, and engagement have directly contributed to the high standard of tertiary education at Monash University. As a passionate researcher, to date, he has registered 2 patents, published 7 academic books, 17 book chapters, and published 210 articles with cumulative citations of 8003, H-index of 47 and i10-index of 137. In addition, he served as PI or co-PI for 29 grants totaling ~RM3.8 million. Also, he has supervised 11 PhD students to completion and currently supervising 8 PhD students. Thus, directly contributing to excellent education and learning and capital development for Malaysia.

Research interests

Dr Lee’s core research focuses on studying “bad” microbes (e.g. Salmonella, Vibrios, MRSA) and how they make people sick while suggesting better detection and management options. Also, he discovers novel “good” microbes (e.g. Actinobacteria) for various drug discovery purposes. Recently he is also interested in the area of how the microbiome affects human health. Such as the investigation into the roles of the microbiome in aging, sepsis, cancer, mental health, and autoimmune diseases.

His passion, leadership, and achievements in research and education have been recognized as the best Medical Science researcher in Malaysia in 2018, as the sole recipient of Malaysia’s Research Star Award (MRSA) Winner 2018 – High Impact Paper Medical Science category. Also, He received the prestigious award of the Fellow of Malaysian Scientific Association in 2022. He was recognized with the Professional Registers as Chartered Biologist from the Royal Society of Biology, UK, in 2017, which recognized his impactful contribution to the development of Biology globally. In 2020, Dr Lee was awarded the Excellent Contribution Award 2019 (Feb 2020) from the University of Phayao (UP), Thailand, to recognize his significant research and education contribution to the UP and regionally.

In recognition of his research expertise, Dr Lee is serving as Chief Editor (Progress in Microbes and Molecular Biology), Section Editor [Current Gene Therapy (IF: 4.391)], Associate Editor [Scientific Report (IF: 4.379), Frontiers in Microbiology (IF: 5.640), Microorganisms (IF: 4.128)] for various reputable journals. He has reviewed more than 250 manuscripts submitted to 70 different ISI journals [e.g., Medicinal Research Reviews (IF: 12.944), Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (IF: 12.811), Clinical and Translational Medicine (IF: 11.492), Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (IF: 11.176), Gut Microbes (IF: 10.245), etc].

Dr Lee highly welcomes collaboration initiatives with researchers globally in the research areas mentioned above.


Keywords: Actinobacteria, Microbial Systematics, Microbial Taxonomy, Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens, Drug Discovery, Food Safety, Microbiome, Metagenomic, Cancers, Medical Microbiology

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, MONASH UNIVERSITY

Mar 2013Dec 2014

Award Date: 30 Dec 2014

Molecular Biology, Doctor of Philosophy, Universiti Putra Malaysia (University Putra Malaysia)

Dec 2008Jul 2012

Award Date: 12 Jul 2012

Molecular Biology, Master of Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia (University Putra Malaysia)

Dec 2006Jul 2008

Award Date: 10 Jul 2008

Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (University Putra Malaysia)

May 2002May 2005

Award Date: 30 Dec 2005

Research area keywords

  • Actinobacteria
  • Microbial Systematics
  • Microbial Taxonomy
  • Multidrug-Resistant Pathogens
  • Drug Discovery
  • Food Safety
  • Microbiome
  • Metagenomic
  • Cancers
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Probiotics
  • MRSA
  • Fecal Microbiome Transplant
  • Gut microbiome
  • Streptomyces


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