A leading researcher in the area of global cardiac pharmacology
Established the basis for providing Korean language medical terms and the system of Korean medicine
(Late) Lee Woo-choo
President of Yonsei University (1918~2007)
- Academic background
Severance Medical School
M.D. at Seoul National Univ.
M.D. at the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin, USA
- Professional career
Professor of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, Yonsei Univ.
Dean, Graduate School, Yonsei Univ.
President, Korea Pharmacology Society
President, Yonsei Univ.
Member of the Korea Academy of Sciences
March 1st Culture Award
Order of Civil Merit, Camellia Medal
Order of Civil Merit, Rose of Sharon Medal
Academy Award, Korean Academy of Sciences
The pioneer who established the infrastructure of Korean pharmacology and basic medicine
Professor Woo Choo Lee is a medical scientist and educator who established the basis of Korean pharmacology and basic medicine.
Born in Gongju, Chungnam Province in 1918, he graduated from Chungang High School and Severance Allied Medical School in 1941. He began the study of pharmacology under the guidance of professor Se-Gyu Lee, who established a Pharmacology Class for the first time as a Korean. During the Korean War in 1950, he went to the USA as an exchange program scholarship student invited by the US Department of State and studied at the University of Wisconsin for a year and a half. After returning to Korea, he served for his school, Yonsei Univ., as a professor at the College of Medicine and received an M.D. at Seoul National University in 1955.
The best researcher in the area of cardiac pharmacology, accredited by the world
However, as he felt a big gap between Korea’s pharmacology and that of international standards, he went abroad to study again. At the Univ. of Wisconsin, he made an experimental verification that catecholamine functions as a hormone that adjusts heart activities and the separation of that substance makes the heart stronger, under the guidance of professor F. E. Shideman, then the world-famous pharmacologist, and received his Ph.D. again in three years. The research was published in the global science journal, Science, under the title of “Role of Myocardial Catecholamines in Cardiac Contractility” in 1959. The paper was the first research that proved that the basic sympathetic nerve activities in normal situations play important roles in the cardiovascular system circadian function and occurrence of disease, and was evaluated as research that greatly contributed to the establishment of the pathophysiological mechanism of, and medical treatment principles for. heart failure due to hypertension and congestive heart failure.
After this, the research on the role of catecholamine was expanded from the heart to the overall autonomic nervous system. As a result, he found out that by checking catecholamine that transmits the function of the sympathetic nerve, we can find out a heart’s disorder, which was also quoted in pharmacology textbooks all over the world. His research was published in over 100 papers both in Korea and overseas, including 30 in globally recognized journals such as Circulation, J. Pharmacol, Exp. Ther, and Brit. J. Pharmacol, which are published by the American Heart Association and the British Pharmacological Society. He was recognized for his academic achievements by the US National Institutes of Health, which supported research expenses with 40,000 dollars for five years in 1960, which was the first case of support for an Asian scholar. Considering that Korea’s GNP per capita was just 160 dollars that time, his being supported for research expenses was a remarkable event that attracted the attention of the Korean government and contributed to the leveling up of the research standards of Korean pharmacology and medicine.
Prepared the basis for the standardization of medical terms and the establishment of Korean terms as well as Korean textbooks
As an educator, he introduced new subjects of cell molecular biology and behavioral science and integrated classes to the College of Medicine of Yonsei Univ. and enhanced education on clinical medicine. This affected lots of other Korean medicine colleges to reorganize their educational courses. He especially stressed the importance of medical terms and textbooks in Korean and edited many books such as “English-Korean Medical Dictionary” (1960), “Pharmacology Lectures” (1984), and “Unabridged Medical Dictionary” (1990). Especially, the Unabridged Medical Dictionary represented the standardization and domestication of medical terms and contributed to the establishment of the Korean medicine system as well as the popularization of medical terms by providing medical terms services to all the people, as it was adopted as the standard medical terms database of Naver. Unabridged Medical Dictionary and Pharmacology Lectures have been revised and supplemented continuously to become currently, “Medical Dictionary by Woo Choo Lee” and “Pharmacology Lectures by Woo Choo Lee”. These two are the must-reads of medical students as well as standard textbooks adopted by the Korea Pharmacology Society to be used for pharmacology classes in the health and medicine areas such as at colleges of medicine, dental colleges, and colleges of nursing.
In addition, he established the Joseon Pharmacology Society in 1947 and took up the position of the president in 1969, contributing to the globalization of Korean pharmacology. Also, he worked as the Dean of the Graduate School of Yonsei Univ. from 1960 to 1964, and the president of Yonsei Univ. from 1975 to 1980. He was evaluated as an educator who put efforts on the stabilization of the educational system, globalization, and the fostering of junior researchers.
Professor Lee was awarded many decorations and commendations for his academic achievements and social contributions, including the Order of Civil Merit, Camellia Medal, and Order of Civil Merit, Rose of Sharon Medal, Academy Award by the Korean Academy of Sciences, and Dongah Medical Culture Writing Award. He is also a path finder who established the foundation of Korean basic medicine and a globally recognized researcher who made striking achievements in pharmacology.