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Spotlight on Young Researchers

Dr. Mi Ji (Miji) Lee, MD, PhD

Dr. Mi Ji (Miji) Lee

Mi Ji (Miji) Lee, MD, PhD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Sungkyunkwan University in Korea. She has been working as a headache specialist in the Neurology department of Samsung Medical Center and actively performing research on headache disorders.


In this interview with Dr. Mi Ji Lee, we asked her about what got her involved in migraine research, her future plans, and if she has any advice for fellow young scientists.

How did you get involved in migraine research and what does your research focus on?

I had two reasons when I decided to enter the headache field. During residency, I felt headache is the most difficult field as the symptom is highly debilitating and sometimes fatal but cannot be visualized. And all the patients with migraine I met had been underdiagnosed and undertreated. The unmet need for the better identification of the disease for doctors and patients led me to the road of headache research.

I am seeing a broad spectrum of disorders from primary headaches to neurological disorders which primarily present with headache: vascular (RCVS, CVT, dissection etc), pressure-related disorders, and infection/inflammatory disorders (Tolosa-Hunt, pseudotumor, pachymeningitis, fungal infection, etc.). While conducting clinical studies about these disorders, I am conducting research focusing on vascular contributions, functional neuroimaging, and biomarker (blood or imaging) of migraine.

Which impact has your involvement in migraine research had on your career so far?

Thanks to my involvement in headache research, I got several research awards. I was selected and awarded as the most productive early-career researcher among the whole neurology field, the whole medical field, and even the whole science/technology field in Korea. Despite of my young age, I have been PIs of several major trial and board member of major academic societies including the International Headache Society. And I am continuing my clinical career as a junior faculty.

What has been the main factor for your continuous engagement in migraine research?

Obviously the patients. They are still underrecognized. It’s not only because the poor social awareness but also because that doctors regard headache disorders ‘uncertain’. I am hoping to elucidate the uncertainties and unknowns regarding headache disorders.

Where do you see yourself and the field of migraine research in 10 years – what’s the next step?

I have been performing AI studies, and I think AI will become an important part of medicine in 10 years. I believe the role of physician cannot be replaced by the AI, but it should be us, headache specialists, who control and use the AI methodology. For myself, well I am not good at looking myself objectively, but I believe I will be continuing the research, and hopefully there will be some important achievements on the vascular contributions of migraine and its impact from our lab.

What is your advice for fellow young scientists who want to get involved in migraine research?

You can do anything here in the headache field, especially for migraine. You can collect patients rapidly as there are super large number of patients. You will be welcomed by the society, as we are always looking for young scientists like you. You can become someone in the field earlier than in other research fields.