NST PhD student Justin Lee wins 2022 University of California Grad Slam

May 06, 2022

Congratulations to third-year metabolic biology PhD student Justin Lee for winning the 2022 University of California Grad Slam! Lee is the first graduate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology (NST) to win the systemwide Grad Slam, and the second consecutive NST student to win the UC Berkeley contest.

Held annually each spring, the tournament-style competition challenges masters and PhD students from each campus to make their work, its purpose, and its value accessible to the public. Winners of the campus contests advance to the systemwide Grad Slam, where they are judged on their ability to present their research in three minutes while enlightening and entertaining a general audience.

"In breaking down my research, I really try to think about how I can relate it to common issues that people see and experience every day," Lee told the UC Newsroom. "If you can build on that and relate it back to your research, you can build on your understanding from there."

A metabolic biologist turned coronavirologist, Lee's research explores the synergy between disease biology and clinical medicine. In his presentation "Jamming the SARS-CoV-2 Copy Machine," the Bay Area native outlined his understanding of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to develop new, effective therapeutics against the virus.

By identifying a key component in the viral RNA, Lee was able to repurpose existing genetic technology to disable the replication of SARS-CoV-2. The research has been tested in mice and is awaiting further peer review.

Watch a recording of Lee's winning talk below, and read the full story on the University of California website.