Informatics Educational Institutions & Programs

Ho Wang Lee (26 October 1928 – 5 July 2022)[1] was a South Korean physician, epidemiologist, and virologist. He was the first person in the history of medicine to be the one chiefly responsible for all 3 of the following steps: (1) discovery of the virus causing a human disease, (2) development of a method of diagnosis for the disease, and (3) development of a vaccine against the disease.[2]

Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Ho-wang
McCune–ReischauerYi Howang


Lee was born in Sinhung, Kankyōnan-dō (South Hamgyong Province), Korea, Empire of Japan on 26 October 1928. He studied medicine at Seoul National University with an M.D. degree in 1954 and was awarded a doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1959. From 1954 to 1972 he was a professor of microbiology at the Medical College of Seoul National University, as well as dean of the Medical College. From 1972 to 1994 he was the director of the Department of Virology of Korea University. From 1994 to his death he was the director of the ASAN Institute for Life Sciences in South Korea.[2]

In 1976 Lee and his collaborators succeeded in isolating the virus causing Korean hemorrhagic fever;[3] they gave it the name Hantaan virus (now called hantavirus or orthohantavirus). The discovery caused a sensation in the international community of medical researchers, because the quest for isolating the virus had been the subject of intense effort since the early 1950s.[2] The research involved in isolating the virus was dangerous, and several of Lee's collaborators became ill due to aerosols produced by chronically infected rodents.[4]

In 1989 Lee and collaborators developed a formalin-inactivated suckling mouse Hantaan virus vaccine, which under the name Hantavax™ has been approved for commercial use in South Korea since 1990.[5] In 1990 Tomiyama and Lee published their findings for their method of rapid serodiagnosis of hantavirus infections.[6]

Ho Wang Lee became one of the first South Korean scientists to gain international fame while continuing to do research primarily in South Korea.[7]

Awards and honors


  1. ^ ‘한타 바이러스’ 발견한 이호왕 고려대 명예교수 별세 (in Korean)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1992 Laureates. Medicine. Ho-Wang Lee". Ho-Am Foundation.
  3. ^ Lee, Ho Wang; Baek, Luck Ju; Johnson, Karl M. (1982). "Isolation of Hantaan virus, the etiologic agent of Korean hemorrhagic fever, from wild urban rats". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 146 (5): 638–644. doi:10.1093/infdis/146.5.638. PMID 6127366.
  4. ^ Lee, Ho Wang; Johnson, Karl M. (1982). "Laboratory-acquired infections with Hantaan virus, the etiologic agent of Korean hemorrhagic fever". Journal of Infectious Diseases. 146 (5): 645–651. doi:10.1093/infdis/146.5.645. PMID 6127367.
  5. ^ Lee HW; Ahn CN; Song JW; Baek LJ; Seo TJ; Park SC (1990). "Field trial of an inactivated vaccine against hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome in humans". Arch. Virol. 1 (Suppl.): 35–47. doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-9091-3_5. ISBN 978-3-211-82217-3.
  6. ^ Calisher, C. H., ed. (1990). ""Rapid serodiagnosis of hantavirus infections using high density particle agglutination" by Tetsuo Tomiyama and H. W. Lee". In: Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Tick-and Mosquito-Borne Viruses. Vienna: Springer. pp. 29–33. doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-9091-3_4.
  7. ^ Shin, Miyoung (2017). "Becoming an International Scientist in South Korea: Ho Wang Lee's Research Activity about Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever". Korean Journal of Medical History. 26 (1): 95–124. doi:10.13081/kjmh.2017.26.95. PMC 10565079. PMID 28814703. (Korean with English abstract)
  8. ^ Prince Mahidol Prize: Biography of laureate
  9. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Ho-Wang Lee". National Academy of Sciences, Member Directory.
  11. ^ "American Academy Announces 2004 Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 30 April 2004.

External links