Lee Wilson

Metis scientist makes breakthrough

By Paul Barnsley

Reprinted with permission from
Saskatchewan Sage - January 1999 - pg. 6

Lee Wilson
Lee Wilson, the first Metis person to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry
at the University of Saskatchewan, is now working for the
National Research Council in Ottawa.

The first Metis person to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan has come up with a way to improve drug delivery to cancer cells.

Lee Wilson, 1997 - 1998 winner of the Taube Medal, the department of chemistry's award for highest achievement in research, completed his doctoral degree and graduated in late 1998. The research work which led to his doctorate has, so far, produced five published works and a job in Ottawa with the National Research Council which he started in the new year.

Ottawa's gain is the Saskatoon's region's loss. Wilson was an active member of the community, speaking in schools and organizing the Indigenous Summer Science Camp in each of the last four years, introducing Metis and Native students to the wonders of science. Now 29 years of age, the native of Lake Francis, a small community of 500 people located near Lake Manitoba, caught the science bug in high school when he formed a close connection with his chemistry teacher. He then studied chemistry at the University of Winnipeg and later moved to Saskatoon for his post-graduate work, beginning in 1992.

His prize winning research involved the study of the binding interactions between cyclodextrins (carbohydrates that look like hollow, truncated cones) and surfactants (which are common in cell membranes).

"The implications for this type of research in the area of drug delivery are tremendous," he admitted, "especially in light of research into new ways of bringing drugs into tumor cells."

True to his Metis traditions, Wilson likes to hunt and fish in his spare time even though, with his commitment to encourage young Indigenous people to take an interest in science, he had very little spare time.

He'll be changing gears over the next few months as he settles in to the Functional Materials Group of the National Research Council. His previous work involved the study of how solutions interact. His new assignment is to develop new porous solids for use in industry. He will get a chance to work on the cutting edge of research into these "designer materials."

Wilson hopes to make good use of his Ph.D in the intense research oriented environment of the NRC. A winner of several fellowships and awards during his time at the University of Saskatchewan, should he continue his past pattern of consistency gaining the recognition of his instructors and peers, he will continue to add new and exciting accomplishments to his resume.

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