Photo of Dr. Michael Lam MD

Michael Lam, MD

Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep MedicineUC San Diego Department of Medicine


Dr. Lam is a first-generation immigrant from Hong Kong. He grew up in San Francisco, California, and graduated from UC Berkeley. He was hooked onto research during his time at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He dived into sequencing genomes of various species as part of the effort for the Human Genome Project in Dr. Jan-Fang Cheng’s lab. He learned that comparative genomics helps decode important functional elements in the otherwise enigmatic human genome. After completing his undergraduate degree, he joined Dr. Rong Wang’s lab at UC San Francisco. He learned to use mouse genetics to study the physiology of vascular development. Under the dissecting scope, he saw the disruption of a vascular bed in the mouse embryo yolk sac and the retina. Arteries, capillaries, and veins were intermixed – AVMs were formed. He also realized the importance of understanding the clinical relevance in biomedical research, as he saw how seeing patients in the Vascular Clinic inspired the research in the lab. He then came to the sunny San Diego for his MD/ Ph.D. training. In Dr. Christopher Glass lab, he studied the regulatory mechanism of gene expression in macrophages, inspired by how the disruption of gene expression in innate immune cells alone can cause common diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis. He provided one of the first evidence that RNA transcription at the enhancer elements is functionally integral to gene regulation. This work derived from studying a transcription factor, Rev-Erb, best known in regulating circadian rhythm.

Dr. Lam received his clinical training at UC San Diego. During an elective rotation in Sleep Medicine, he realized how sleep disruption – either chronically with Obstructive Sleep Apnea or acutely in the ICU – affects health outcome. He was accepted in the Physician Scientist Training Pathway in the Internal Medicine Residency and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at UC San Diego to further pursue his academic interest in studying inflammatory disease. He is currently in Satchin Panda’s lab at the Salk Institute on studying how circadian rhythm and sleep affect the immune system.

Outside academia, Dr. Lam enjoys hiking, reading, movies, and photography. Right now he spends most of his time taking pictures of his young toddler playing in the San Diego Zoo, Model Railroad Museum, and the New Children Museum.

Education & Training

  • 2003 : UC Berkeley, B.S., Molecular and Cell biology with minor in Chemistry
  • 2014 : University of California San Diego School of Medicine, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Scientist Training Program.
  • 2013 – 2016 : University of California San Diego, Residency, Internal Medicine
  • 2016 – 2020 : University of California San Diego, Fellowship, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine

Research Interests

• Gene transcription
• Inflammatory diseases
• Sleep disruption
• Circadian rhythm
• Critical care
• Septic shock

Key Publications

1. Lam MT, Cho H, Lesch HP, Gosselin D, Heinz S, Tanaka-Oishi Y, Benner C, Kaikkonen MU, Salim A, Kosaka M, Lee CY, Watt A, Grossman T, Rosenfeld MG, Evans RM, Glass CK (2013). Rev-Erbs negatively regulate macrophage gene expression by repression enhancer-directed transcription. Nature. 498 (7455), pp. 511-5.
2. Lam MT, Li W, Rosenfeld MG, Glass CK (2014). Enhancer RNAs and regulated transcriptional programs. Trend in Biochem Sci. 39(4), 170-182.
3. Cho H, Zhao X, Hatori M, Yu RT, Barish GD, Lam MT, Chong LW, DiTacchio L, Atkins AR, Glass CK, Liddle C, Auwerx J, Downes M, Panda S, Evans RM (2012). Regulation of circadian behavior and metabolism by REV-ERB- and REV-ERB- Nature. 485 (7396): 123-7.
4. Kaikkonen MU, Lam MT, Glass CK (2011). Non-coding RNAs as regulators of gene expression and epigenetics. Cardiovasc Res. 90(3); 430-40.
5. Truong KK, Lam MT, Grandner MA, Sassoon CS, Malhotra A (2016). Timing Matters: Ciracdian Rhythm in Sepsis, Obstructive Lung Disease, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Cancer. Ann of Am Thoracic Soc. 13(7), 1144-1154.