Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Eui-Kyung Lee, '90 PhD, is South Korea’s new Minister of Food and Drug Safety.

The agency—like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the United States—is responsible for promoting public health by ensuring food and drug safety.

Eui-Kyung Lee

Lee came to the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in the late ’80s, having already received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Seoul National University in pharmacy. In 1990, she graduated with a PhD in the college’s Health Services Research Program (formerly Pharmaceutical Socioeconomics).

Lee’s advisor at Iowa was Bernard Sorofman, who went on to become executive associate dean of the college and is now a professor emeritus. Sorofman remembered Lee as a “bright and inquisitive” student who “quickly acculturated into our style of scientific inquiry and debate."

“Looking back,” he added, “Dr. Lee’s career successes could have been predicted as a PhD student. She was able to able to quickly grasp complex social and behavioral science concepts. And she easily integrated principles and theories into applications for patient medication use.”

Since graduating, Lee has worked almost entirely in South Korea. There she has been the director and a fellow of health research at a leading think tank, and a professor at two schools of pharmacy, in both cases in the area of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. From 2001-2002 she was also a visiting scholar at the Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic Research at the University of Arizona.


Bernard A Sorofman
Bernard Sorofman

Towards the end of her program she talked about getting back to her home, South Korea, and making a difference in health care there.

Lee has authored 121 research articles in academic journals, and 26 for the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs. She is a current and former member of a large number of government committees and professional societies.

Lee was appointed as the new minister in March. She could not be reached for comment.

When Lee joined the government agency, a statement was released by “the Blue House”—South Korea’s “White House”. It was translated in an article on the website of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU).

“Lee is an expert in the field of food safety with experience in research institutions and universities,” the statement said. “We have appointed Lee as the new minister with confidence that she will improve the environment of medicine and medical supplies."

Sorofman spoke proudly of his former mentee.

“Towards the end of her program she talked about getting back to her home, South Korea, and making a difference in health care there. Certainly, she has achieved that goal.”